At least 12 suspected cases of the new coronavirus variant – Omicron – have been found in Balochistan, Dawn.com reported on Wednesday, ringing alarm bells in the country as the government expands Covid-19 booster shots campaign.
It quoted Dr Naqibullah Niazi, the head of Operations Cell (Covid) in Balochistan, as saying on Tuesday that 12 out of the 32 cases to test positive for Covid-19 exhibited signs of the Omicron variant. They were from the town of Kalat, the health official added.
The patients are in quarantine, Dr Niazi said, adding that their Covid-19 test samples were sent to the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, where the presence of the variant would be confirmed after gene-sequencing.
According to the daily statistics of the Covid-19, as many as 33,606 cases were reported in Balochistan over the last 24 hours and at least 19 were reported in a single day.
Pakistan on December 13 confirmed its first case of the Omicron case, a week after Sindh had announced a suspected case detected in a female admitted in a hospital in Karachi.
“The NIH has been able to confirm (via whole genome sequencing) that a recently suspected sample from Karachi is indeed the ‘Omicron variant’ of SARS-CoV2. This is the first confirmed case but continued surveillance of suspected samples is in place to identify the trends,” NIH had said in a tweet.
Last month, NCOC head Asad Umar had said that the arrival of Omicron in the country was “impossible to stop” and urged the citizens to “immediately get vaccinated.” Umar, along with SAPM on Health Faisal Sultan in a presser, had announced that vaccination campaign would be expanded.
The detection of Omicron had prompted Pakistan in November to impose travel ban on six south African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia – and Hong Kong. It was later extended to nine more countries.