By Umar Farooq and Syed Raza Hassan
KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN, April 30 (Reuters) – Health officials in the Pakistani province of Sindh said they have detected two coronavirus variants first identified in Brazil and South Africa.
It would be the first detection of those variants in Pakistan confirmed by officials.
“Yesterday 13 samples underwent genomic study at the Agha Khan University Hospital, of these 10 were of the UK variant, and 2 were of the Africa and Brazil variants”, Minister for Health & Population Welfare, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho said on Friday.
The highly contagious variants were discovered at a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, which has also reported the most deaths in any city, accounting for 3,903 of the country’s 17,811 deaths. Some 820,823 cases have been detected in the country, with 5,112 in the last 24 hours, according to the National Command Operation Center (NCOC), which oversees the government’s pandemic response.
“You can see these strains and the kind of pressure that can be put on our health facilities,” Pechuho said.
“If you contract the Brazilian or South African variants, you can become extremely ill.
Pakistan has seen record deaths in recent days from the coronavirus, and stricter restrictions on movement and gathering in public are planned for the upcoming Eid holiday. Officials are worried the country’s health care system, already under strain, could reach breaking point if more contagious variants of the virus begin to spread, as has happened in neighboring India.
“This should be an alarm bell for our health system,” Pechucho said. “Our hospitals can be overwhelmed, our ventilators and beds will not be enough, and you have alrady seen this happen in India.” (Reporting by Umar Farooq in Islamabad and Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi; editing by Louise Heavens)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Click For Restrictions – https://agency.reuters.com/en/copyright.html