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No case of recent Covid variant present in Pakistan but: well being minister

Caretaker Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan
Caretaker Well being Minister Dr Nadeem Jan on Friday mentioned that the nation had not but recorded any instances of the brand new Covid-19 variant, JN.1 Omicron, however emphasised “we’re on pink alert”.

The assertion from the minister comes a day after the federal authorities determined to acquire 500,000 doses of a Covid vaccine, amid a doable resurgence of the brand new variant of the virus in varied international locations.

The procurement of Pfizer vaccines from the US was deliberate on the suggestions of the Eme­r­gency Operation Centre’s (EOC) technical advisory group following the rising risk of the JN.1 variant.

Round 200,000 doses of vaccine will probably attain the nation within the coming week, whereas the remaining might be out there within the subsequent part.

The JN.1 variant can be known as a sub-variant of the Omicron lineage. It’s extra transmissible than different circulating variants, and the proportion of instances brought on by this specific virus has been rising.

Though well being consultants have declared it much less extreme than the opposite strains, they’re of the view that it could result in problems for the high-risk inhabitants, particularly aged individuals with low immunity.

Talking within the Senate at the moment, the well being minister mentioned that Pakistan was carefully monitoring the brand new variant and the federal government was on “pink alert”.

He talked about the federal government’s efforts to implement lab testing programs throughout totally different districts for in depth testing among the many inhabitants.

The minister reported that the federal government had issued three advisories on the matter, stating: “We’ll urge the Pakistan Digital Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to ask TV channels to run it.”

He additionally talked about that the illness was akin to influenza.

In the meantime, the Nati­onal Institute of Well being Sci­ences (NIH) in Islamabad has additionally issued an advisory to provinces concerning the mutating pressure of the virus.

As per the advisory, the brand new variant has been categorized by the World Well being Organisation (WHO) as a Variant of Curiosity (VOI) with genetic modifications predicted or identified to have an effect on virus traits akin to transmissibility, illness severity, immune escape, and diagnostic or therapeutic escape.

“The JN.1 is classed as VOI and basically an offshoot of BA.2.86 sub-variant Omicron variant Covid-19 virus, first reported in August 2023 by US-CDC,” reads the NIH advisory.

“This speedy progress is noticed throughout the three WHO areas with constant sharing of SARS-CoV-2 sequences, i.e. the area of the Americas, the Western Pacific and the European areas, with the biggest improve seen in Western Pacific from 1.1 per cent in epidemiological week 44 to 65.6pc in epidemiological week 48.”

As per the NIH officers, the advisory has been issued to alert and facilitate the well being authorities and different stakeholders for well timed preventive and management measures and guarantee preparedness to take care of elevated affected person inflow through the subsequent few weeks.

Screening for inbound passengers

Individually, the Nationwide Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has additionally determined to renew the screening of inbound passengers.

In line with the NCOC, 2pc of inbound passengers might be screened in any respect entry factors.

“Preserving in view the surge within the Covid-19 instances in some international locations, NCOC is vigilantly observing the state of affairs,” mentioned the authority, including that strict vigilance might be carried out in any respect factors of entry (PoEs).