The Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) confirmed on Monday that the new coronavirus variant Omicron has been detected in a patient through gene-sequencing.

In a statement, the hospital said the patient was at home and was doing well. So far, no other patients at the hospital have been confirmed to have the Omicron variant, it added.

On Dec 8, the Sindh government had claimed that though genomic study had to be done for confirmation, the way the virus was behaving in a female patient in Karachi seemed it was the Omicron. The matter was widely circulated in the media and reported as the first case of Omicron.

In a video message on the same day, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho had said the 57-year-old woman was unvaccinated.

However, on Dec 9, the NIH issued a clarification stating that the sample was yet to be confirmed as Omicron through whole-genome sequencing, adding it would be obtained from the Sindh government.

It later said that results of samples of three suspected cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 would be received on Monday (today).

WHO WARNING: A day earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the Omicron coronavirus variant is more transmissible than the Delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms.

The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9. Faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.

But it stressed that a lack of data meant it could not say if Omicron’s rate of transmission was because it was less prone to immune responses, higher transmissibility or a combination of both.

Early evidence suggests Omicron causes “a reduction in vaccine efficacy against infection and transmission”, the WHO said in a technical brief.

Omicron infections have so far caused “mild” illness or asymptomatic cases, but the WHO said the data was insufficient to establish the variant’s clinical severity.


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