New Covid strain has not reached Punjab: health dept

Punjab Primary and Secondary Health Care (P&SHC) on Sunday confirmed that the new strain of the coronavirus, which prima facie originated in the United Kingdom, has not yet been detected in Punjab.

The new strain, referred to by experts as B.1.17, is said to be 70 per cent more transmittable than the previous variants. Earlier this week, the Sindh government had confirmed the first three cases of the UK variant of Covid-19 in Karachi among passengers who had returned from Britain in the last 12 days.

The P&SHC spokesperson said that the passengers from the UK underwent testing, and while one woman was positive for Covid-19, she has not yet undergone gene sequencing to confirm whether or not it is the B.1.17 variant.

“It is not possible to declare which type of coronavirus [a patient has been infected with] without gene sequencing,” the spokesperson said. “It isn’t necessary that these people — who were affected by the coronavirus in UK and returned to Pakistan — are infected with the new strain of the virus.”

Meanwhile, the death rate due to the novel virus reached a high of 5.5 per cent in Punjab, which is greater than the death rates seen in other provinces. Lahore is on the top among other districts of Punjab with 1,540 deaths, followed by Rawalpindi’s 672 and Faisalabad 342.

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