pAKISTAN vaccine covid moderna
In this Tuesday, July 6, 2021 file photo, a health worker prepares a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, in Lahore, Pakistan. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday reported the first suspected case of the new coronavirus variant Omicron in Karachi, a 57-year old woman who had not been vaccinated and was being treated at a private hospital of the city.

According to Health Minister of Sindh Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, the health authorities were conducting further tests and a genomic study to confirm the case.

The health ministry spokesperson in the southern province of Sindh earlier said the genomic study of the coronavirus patient’s sample had not been conducted however, “the way the virus is behaving, it seems like it is Omicron.”

“Since Omicron is a transmissible variant of coronavirus but deaths or serious conditions have not been seen in recent reports coming from South Africa where it first detected, therefore, there is no cause for concern. We are conducting a genomic study which will take one or two weeks,” said Dr Pechuho in a video message posted on Twitter.

“A genomic study is being conducted which will confirm the exact variant but for now getting both doses of the vaccine is the best precaution,” she said, stressing the public to get vaccinated.

“The virus also spreads because people are not vaccinated. This woman was not vaccinated either. I am appealing to you to get the second dose and if you are fully vaccinated, get the booster dose. It can protect you,” she stressed.

Earlier, the health ministry spokesperson Mehar Khursheed had confirmed detection of the first Omicron case in a woman from Karachi. She said the infected woman was unvaccinated and had been admitted for treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital.

According to a letter written by the District Health Officer of Karachi’s East district to the provincial Director General of Health, the Regional Disease Surveillance and Response Unit in the metropolis “reported the first case of new COVID-19 ‘Omicron’ variant on December 8, 2021, at 7pm.”

It further stated that the woman, who was 65 years of age, was unvaccinated and did not have a travel history. She was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and was isolating at home.

Rapid response team activated to ensure quarantine

The rapid response team was “taken on board immediately” for tracing, testing, quarantining, vaccination and other preventive measures to control the infection’s spread as per the guidelines of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in a statement also said the sample of the coronavirus patient was “not yet confirmed to be Omicron via whole-genome sequencing” which would be performed after the NIH received the sample.

Aga Khan Hospital confirms receiving first suspect of Omicron

The Aga Khan University Hospital has also stated that the hospital had received the “first patient suspected of [having] the COVID-19 Omicron variant”.

“We are awaiting the results of the final (genome sequencing) confirmatory test, which will take a few days. We have reported the suspected patient to the health department for their action. The patient did well and has been discharged,” the hospital’s spokesperson Anam Haleem said in the statement.

COVID-19 positivity remains under 1%

Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity rate was reported 0.74 per cent, as 350 new cases were reported after 46,697 tests conducted in the last 24 hours. This is the 9th consecutive day when the country is reporting less than per cent coronavirus positivity.

Last time the positivity rate crossed 1 per cent on Nov 30, the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC) the country’s nerve centre monitoring coronavirus situation, reported on Thursday.