COVID-19

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination on Friday emphasised that the new strain of the coronavirus, identified in Britain, has not made it to Pakistan yet.
In a statement issued on Twitter, the ministry said the situation in Pakistan is being closely monitored as all the passengers arriving from the United Kingdom are being evaluated. “As of today, no such variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in Pakistan,” it said. “The National Institute of Health is sensitive and on alert regarding this new strain for timely detection and addressal.”
On December 21, Pakistan banned entry of passengers from the UK into Pakistan over fears concerning the highly infectious new coronavirus strain. A slew of countries closed their borders to Britain, suspending travel for Britons, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that a mutated variant of the virus had been identified in the country.
The decision to ban travel from the UK was taken by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on a day when the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) cancelled all flights to and from Saudi Arabia. “Temporary restriction is being put in place on inbound travellers from the UK (whether direct or indirect) into Pakistan to be effective from midnight Dec 22 until Dec 29,” the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in its notification.
Meanwhile, at least two people who recently travelled to Pakistan from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while reports of 25 others are awaited.
KP Health Secretary Imtiaz Hussain Shah said that a total of 149 passengers recently arrived in the province from the UK – 44 out of whom have been traced along with 32 of their contacts. Another 54 passengers have been identified across seven districts including Peshawar, Swabi and Nowshera, and the district administration has been directed to trace them.
The government has been unable to trace 46 people because they provided incorrect residential addresses. Shah said four people tested negative in the first round of testing.
The two Covid-19 patients were identified in Peshawar and Abbottabad and are currently under quarantine. Shah said further tests will be conducted at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad which will determine the nature of the strain.
After the British government officially announced detection of the mutation, many countries, including Pakistan, have imposed travel bans on the UK. – TLTP