Pakistan reports first suspected case of Omicron variant

Karachi: Pakistan has reported its first suspected case of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron in a woman in Karachi, Sindh province Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said on Thursday.

She said that a genomic study was being carried out for confirmation.

“Although the genomic study of the coronavirus patient’s sample has not been completed but the way the virus is behaving, it seems like it is Omicron, she told the media.

She said the patient was 57 years old but local news channels have reported that the woman who had gone to a private hospital for treatment was around 65 with no history of travelling.According to health officials, the patient is not showing any symptoms of the virus and has been sent home to be isolated.

Pechuho said that while Omicron is very transmissible, deaths or serious [conditions] have not been seen in recent reports coming from South Africa.

She said there was no cause for concern but the genomic study which will take one or two weeks will confirm whether the woman was infected with the Omicron variant.

She said the unfortunate part was that this woman was not vaccinated.

“I am appealing to the people to get the second dose and if you are fully vaccinated, get the booster dose. It can protect you,” she stressed.

In a meeting of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) held earlier this month, it was decided to inoculate booster shots to immunocompromised people, healthcare workers and those aged over 50 years.

An official of the provincial health ministry said that soon after the case was reported early on Wednesday morning 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.

A statement issued by the Aga Khan University Hospital where the woman had gone said 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.