At least six people in Karachi were confirmed to be infected by the XBB and XBB.1 Omicron variants of Covid-19, the health department reported on Tuesday.
The sequencing was done by Agha Khan Hospital – one of the major private health facilities of the provincial capital.
The health department also revealed that the confirmed cases had been detected in residents of Defence Housing Authority, Shadman Homes and Tariq Road.
“All patients are in stable condition,” the Sindh health department’s spokesperson said.
A notification circulated by the department on Dec 28 maintained that the variant of the Omicron virus detected in patients in the metropolis had no “linkage with recently detected China variant BF.7”.
It added that none of the eight patients had a “travel history of China”.
Earlier, National Institute of Health (NIH) Executive Director Aamer Ikram denied all reports surrounding the presence of new variants of coronavirus in the country.
According to NIH Islamabad, XBB is a variant of Omicron, and 20 cases have been detected in Pakistan, which it claims is not “a point of concern of global health”.
“No cases of a new variant of Covid have been reported,” the NIH official said while adding that all “arrangements have been completed to combat the new variant” should a case emerge.
Lifting of the lockdown in China and free travelling have increased the risk of a new Covid variant entering Pakistan.
According to a National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) official, new variants have also come in the past, but they were controlled in time. “We are fully prepared to tackle and control any variant.”
Reports suggest the coronavirus strain spreading in China is a sub-variant of the highly infectious Omicron variant: BF.7 or BA.220.127.116.11.
Yesterday, while chairing a review meeting on the virus situation, NDMA Chairman Lt-Gen Inam Haider Malik had instructed the NIH to issue necessary guidelines for educational institutions, social gatherings and communities.
Meanwhile, at least 29 Omicron infections have been reported in a week across the country as reports of a new wave of Covid have emerged.
Of the reported figures, however, all cases are of the older XBB subvariant and no BF.7 cases have so far been detected.
According to the NIH, the present positivity rate stands at 0.40per cent with 15 positive cases.