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New coronavirus strain not detected in Pakistan yet, says govt

An AFP file image of a doctor taking a man’s temperature.

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services on Friday emphasised that the new strain of the coronavirus, identified in Britain, has not made it to Pakistan yet. 

The ministry said the situation in Pakistan is being closed monitored as all the passengers arriving from the United Kingdom are being evaluated.

“As of today, no such variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in Pakistan,” it said in a statement issued on Twitter. “The National Institute of Health is sensitive and on alert regarding this new strain for timely detection and addressal.”

Pakistan reported 2,152 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, raising the national tally to 467,222. With 85 new deaths, the country’s coronavirus death toll reached 9,753. So far, a total of 418,958 people have recovered from the virus while the active number of cases stands at 38,511.

New strain

Although the new strain, referred to by some experts as B.1.1.7 lineage, is not the first variant of the coronavirus pandemic but its is said to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible.

After the British government officially announced detection of the mutation, many countries, including Pakistan, have imposed travel bans on the UK.

Will the vaccine work?

Scientists say there’s no evidence that vaccines currently being deployed in the UK – made by Pfizer and BioNtech – or other COVID-19 shots in development will not protect against this variant.

At least four drugmakers expect their COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new fast-spreading variant of the virus that is raging in Britain and are performing tests that should provide confirmation in a few weeks.

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