Three more cases of B.1.617 COVID-19 variant found in Pakistan

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Peshawar, Jun 4 (PTI) Pakistan reported three more cases of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus, first identified in India, on Friday, in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, despite a ban on travellers from the neighbouring country, officials said.

Speaking to reporters, Provincial Health Secretary Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah said the patients had returned to the country earlier in the week from the UAE in a flight bound for Peshawar.

In total, eight passengers in the flight tested positive for COVID-19, including three with the B.1.617.2 variant and five with the B.1.351 variant, first identified in South African.

All eight patients have been quarantined at a government facility. The persons afflicted by the Delta variant are above 40 years of age.

After India's outbreak of COVID-19 fuelled by the new strain earlier this year, Pakistan in April imposed a ban on travellers arriving from the neighbouring country via the air, sea and land routes.

Pakistan on May 28 detected the first case of the highly infectious B.1.617 variant of coronavirus. As per official data on Thursday, Pakistan has reported 926,695 coronavirus cases and 21,022 related deaths.

Last week, the World Health Organisation named the B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 variants of the COVID-19, both first identified in India, as 'Kappa' and 'Delta' respectively, to simplify public discussions and also remove stigma from the names. The other strains of the virus have also been named after Greek alphabets. PTI AYZ IND AKJ IND

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