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PMA warns of new strain of COVID in December

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) rang alarm bells on Sunday and urged the government and public to exercise special caution amid global concerns over the emergence of a new strain of Covid-19.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the PMA said the government should take all the required preventive measures. “We can face another wave of Covid-19 most likely by the mid or end of December. It could be serious because this new variant is more contagious.”
The PMA also called on unvaccinated members of the public to get their jabs. “We also request you to adopt preventive measures,” it said. “The people who do not get them vaccinated could face the intricacy of the disease.”
The country reported 303 more coronavirus cases on Sunday and five deaths. The Covid positivity rate remained 0.81 percent, while 946 patients were stated to be in critical condition.
Meanwhile, world governments rushed to contain a new, heavily mutated Covid-19 strain on Sunday, with Israel slamming its borders shut to foreign nationals and Australia reporting its first cases of the variant. The variant now known as Omicron has cast doubt on global efforts to fight the pandemic because of fears that it is highly infectious, forcing countries to re-impose measures many had hoped were a thing of the past.
Scientists are racing to determine the threat posed by the heavily mutated strain – particularly whether it can evade existing vaccines.
Several countries have also announced plans to restrict travel from southern Africa, where it was first detected, including key travel hub Qatar, the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Netherlands. The strictest among them is Israel, which said on Sunday it would close its borders to all foreigners in a bid to curb the spread of the variant – just four weeks after reopening to tourists after a prolonged closure due to Covid.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday imposed a complete ban on travel from Hong Kong and six southern African countries – South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana. It also ordered the aviation division to design a mechanism for the screening of passengers travelling from these states through indirect flights.
Pakistan has administered at least 121.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that is enough to have vaccinated about 28.1 percent of the country’s population. – TLTP