The number of patients suffering from coronavirus variant Omicron in Pakistan has reached 75 as of December 27, the National Institute of Health (NIH) said on Tuesday.

The NIH, in a statement, noted the first case of Omicron was reported on December 13 in Karachi after the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated it as a “variant of concern” on November 26.

The institution said since then, the Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), NIH, and provincial health departments have remained vigilant to detect the variant in Pakistan.

Thirty-three cases of the variant have been reported in Karachi, 17 in Islamabad, and 13 in Lahore, while 12 of the total 75 cases were associated with international travel, the NIH noted.

The health institution said relevant authorities have isolated the patients and initiated contact tracing in order to control the spread of the variant.

“The vaccination and standard operations procedures (SOPs) continue to be our best defence against COVID-19 despite the mutations being reported,” the NIH told the masses.

The NIH noted that all government-approved COVID-19 vaccines available in Pakistan “remain highly effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalisation”.

The NIH urged everyone to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster dose as per the eligibility criteria and process.

Meanwhile, infections hit new highs in multiple US states and Europe, wreaking havoc on global air travel. Governments worldwide are scrambling to boost vaccinations, stressing that the overwhelming majority of hospitalisations and deaths are occurring among the unvaccinated.

Some 11,500 flights have been scrapped worldwide since Friday and tens of thousands more delayed, during one of the year’s busiest travel periods — with multiple airlines saying spikes in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have caused staffing shortages.


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