ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is fully prepared to deal with any sub-variant of the deadly coronavirus, including BF.7 if it reaches the country, health authorities said Monday.
An efficient system with a proper management team is fully functional and is ready to make an emergency plan in case of any untoward situation, sources at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination said.
They said that surveillance systems are in place at all entry points of the country, including airports. They added medical staff at intensive care units (ICU) of hospitals across the country were also active to handle any situation.
The sources said that genome sequencing was started in laboratories of all four provinces and the federal capital. They added that 90% of the country’s population already got the COVID-19 vaccine, so they "are safe".
They said that special directions have been issued to ensure the availability of an adequate quantity of ventilators, oxygen supply, and antiviral medicines in the hospitals.
The development comes after National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) denied the detection of Omicron sub-variant BF.7 in Pakistan and said there is no threat of any new variant of COVID-19.
“An unverified report is circulating in the media regarding the threat of a new COVID-19 variant. The National Command and Operations Center affirms that at present there is no such threat. The situation is being closely monitored," the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad said in a statement on Twitter.
Following China, India reported the detection of several cases of BF.7, a sub-variant of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 which is driving the huge COVID surge in China.
The BF.7 sub-variant has already been detected in several other countries including Germany, Belgium, France, Denmark, the US and the UK.
Believed to be a highly transmissible variant with a shorter incubation period, the BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA, experts at NIH said. They said that it also has a higher capacity to cause re-infection and can even infect vaccinated individuals.
“As per the latest studies, the BF.7 variant has several times higher neutralization resistance than the original Wuhan virus. This means the antibodies from the vaccination are not effective enough against the virus”, an expert at the NIH told The News.
Meanwhile, as per data shared by the National Institute of Health (NIH), 14 new coronavirus cases were reported during the last 24 hours across the country.
The case positivity ratio is 0.53% while 18 patients were in critical condition.
No death was reported from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours while 3,394 tests were conducted. Around 151 tests were conducted in Islamabad, 824 in Lahore, and 55 in Multan.
As many as four confirmed cases with a 0.49% case positivity ratio were reported from Lahore, one case with a 0.66% case positivity ratio was reported from Islamabad, and one case with a 1.82 % case positivity ratio was registered in Multan.
Meanwhile, Minister for National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel appreciated the efforts of all stakeholders, healthcare staff, vaccination teams, and administration working across Pakistan despite multiple challenges.
He advised all provinces and regions to administer booster doses to further improve protection against COVID-19 transmission.
He said that because of the global pandemic situation, the Central Health Establishment (CHE) will be strengthened to enhance its functionality.
The minister emphasised the importance of precautions, including social distancing and mask-wearing, especially in crowded places. He also highlighted the need to strictly follow the guidelines for the management of markets.
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