Pakistan Confirms Six New Cases of Coronavirus Variant First Detected in UK

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Pakistan on Tuesday confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus variant found in the UK after it identified the strain that spreads at a much faster pace in three samples taken from passengers who had returned from Britain. The health department in Sindh said the samples of 12 returnees were taken for genotyping, out of which six tested positive.

"Samples of 3 UK returnees show a 95 per cent match to the new coronavirus variant from the UK in the first phase of genotyping," it said in a tweet. The health department said that the provincial government was tracing contacts of these patients, and all those who came in contact with them were being isolated.

The new variant is considered as 70 per cent more transmissible and has sparked concerns around the world. The development came as Pakistan extended a ban on the UK flights till January 4. The ban was announced on December 21. Several countries have closed their borders with the UK and suspended flights amid growing concerns of an "out of control" new variant of coronavirus spreading at a much faster pace in parts of England.

The new variant is said to be 70 per cent more transmissible, though health experts say there is no evidence that it is more deadly or would react differently to vaccines. Meanwhile, 63 more people have died in Pakistan in the last 24 hours, taking the COVID-19 death toll to 9,992. Another 2,259 patients were in critical conditions, according to the Ministry of National Health Services.

The total number of COVID-19 infections have reached 475,085 after 1,776 new cases were detected across the country. A total of 425,494 people have recovered, it said. The authorities carried out 30,666 tests in the last 24 hours, registering a positivity rate of 5.44 per cent.