Another Covid variant
creeps into Pakistan,
1,783 in critical condition


ISLAMABAD: As the country continues to see a drop in number of Covid-19 infections, health authorities on Wednesday announced that another variant of the deadly virus had managed to reach Pakistan.

To ensure there is no 5th wave of covid we have to meet vaccination targets set. Otherwise despite sharp decline in cases we remain vulnerable, if large number of people remain unvaccinated. Remember that 2nd dose is vital for protection against covid, get fully vaccinated. The country will remain vulnerable to Covid if large numbers of people are unvaccinated, he cautions.

The Japanese government, on the other hand, provided equipment worth $6.59 million to Islamabad through the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) for enhancing national capacity for Covid-19 vaccine storage.

Meanwhile, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) reported 554 new cases and 12 casualties in a single day.

Covid centre

The last time less than 554 cases were reported was on Oct 18, 2020 when 440 patients were identified.

According to the data, the national positivity ratio remained 1.31pc, with 1,783 patients in critical condition.

Talking to Dawn, Member Scientific Task Force on Covid-19 Dr Javed Akram said a virulent variant of Covid-19 called ‘Epsilon’ had been detected.

“This variant had originated in California, which was why it was called the California strain or B.1.429,” Dr Akram said, adding that it later reached the United Kingdom and other European countries.

“Now we have been receiving cases in Pakistan,” he said, adding that so far five variants and seven mutations of Epsilon had been reported which made it more infectious.

“We need to understand that the virus has been controlled but not eradicated, therefore, there are chances of it bouncing back,” the task force member said.

A driver is getting Covid injection

Replying to a question, Dr Akram, who is also the vice chancellor of the University of Health Sciences, said around 40 patients had been confirmed in Pakistan having the strain through gene sequencing, but this was not an accurate figure. “Gene sequencing has not been done on every patient,” he added.

Dr Akram said the positive side was that all vaccines were effective against Epsilon, therefore people should get immunised and adhere to the standard operating procedures.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) and NCOC launched a video that explained how Covid-19 vaccine worked.

The video shows how the vaccine produced antibodies that acted like soldiers and protected the body from the virus.

“The vaccine does not become a reason for the disease rather it trains soldiers of the body to recognise Covid-19 and respond to the virus when it enters the body,” the video explained, adding that this was why a person experienced certain side effects after he or she received the vaccine.

A health official takes a swab sample of a child for coronavirus testing

Pakistan has reported less than 1,000 coronavirus cases for the six day in a row. During the last 24 hours, the country recorded 662 Covid cases, while a day earlier 554 cases were reported.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre, 44,334 were conducted during the last 24 hours. The total number of cases has risen to 1,266,826 and the death toll is 28,328.

The positivity rate was recorded as 1.4 per cent.

Breakdown of cases and deaths reported:

Sindh: 318 cases, 2 deaths

Punjab: 162 cases, 8 deaths

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 94 cases, 5 deaths

Islamabad: 28 cases, 1 death

Balochistan: 11 cases

Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 5 cases

Gilgit-Baltistan: 4 cases