Lahore reports Punjab’s first case of Omicron variant thumbnail

Lahore reports Punjab’s first case of Omicron variant

Punjab Health Department has confirmed on Monday the
first reported case of the omicron variant of covid-19 from Punjab.

The virus was detected in the 23-year-old man from Lahore.
The patient is a resident of Gulberg area.

The health authorities said that the patient came from Sindh
and has no history of travelling abroad.

Samples of more than 10 suspected cases of omicron were sent
to National Institute of Health, Islamabad. Only one returned positive, Punjab
health department said.

This comes just two days after Islamabad reported first case
of omicron variant.

On Saturday, the district health officer of the capital city
confirmed that the patient, a man, has been quarantined. The patient has no
international travel history but he recently flew to Karachi, Dr Zaeem Zia
said.

Last week, at least 32 omicron cases were reported in
Balochistan’s Kalat. They have, however, not been confirmed by the National
Command and Operation Center (NCOC) yet.

Dr Naqibullah Niazi, the in-charge of the Covid-19 operation cell, said samples have been sent to the National Institute of Health for genome sequencing. The rate of the spread of coronavirus in Kalat has increased more than 5% after several months, he added.

Pakistan confirmed its first Omicron case earlier this month. The patient was a woman hailing from Karachi. She had no recent travel history.

Cases can surge in three weeks

Meanwhile, former Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza has warned that cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 could surge in the country in the next three weeks.

Dr Mirza said that Omicron spreads faster than other variants of Covid-19, but there was no indication that it causes more severe infections.

“However, I do want to ring one fear bell. Since Omicron could lead to faster spread of the [virus], I assume that in the next two or three weeks Pakistan may witness a surge in the number of [Covid-19] cases.”

Booster shots

NCOC chief Asad Umar has emphasised that vaccines are imperative for protection against coronavirus and its new variant. The government has encouraged people to get their second dose as soon as possible.

On Monday, the NCOC approved booster doses for citizens of and above the age of 30 years. They will be administered the jabs at vaccination centers across the country. People who got both their Covid-19 shots six months back are eligible for the booster shot.

The vaccine will be administered free of cost. Only Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Pfizer will be given as booster shots.

After the development, these people will be eligible for booster shots:

  • People above 30 years of age
  • health workers
  • immunocompromised people

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