Pakistan confirms 1st case of omicron variant

Presence of strain in 57-year-old woman from Karachi was reported on Dec. 9.

Pakistan confirms 1st case of omicron variant

Pakistan on Monday confirmed its first case of the new omicron variant of coronavirus through genome sequencing.

The South Asian country reported the suspected case of the new strain on Dec. 9, but samples were sent for genomic study to the National Institute of Health, an autonomous body of the federal Health Ministry.

"The National Institute of Health, Islamabad has been able to confirm that a recently suspected sample from Karachi is indeed the ‘Omicron variant’ of Sars-CoV2," the National Command and Operation Center, an official body that leads the country’s anti-coronavirus strategy, said on Twitter.

"This is the first confirmed case but continued surveillance of identified samples is in place to identify trends," it added.

The Agha Khan Hospital Karachi, where the suspected case was reported, also confirmed the development, saying the 57-year old woman from the commercial capital is at home and doing well.

So far, no other patients at the hospital have been confirmed to have omicron, the press release said.

Pakistan, a country of over 200 million people, has fully vaccinated over 25% of its population.

The World Health Organization said on Sunday that the variant is more transmissible than the delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms, according to preliminary data.

The delta variant, first identified in India earlier this year, is responsible for most of the world's coronavirus infections.

South Africa's discovery of omicron in late November prompted countries around the world to impose travel bans on Southern African countries and reintroduce domestic restrictions. It has since spread to at least 63 countries.

Hüseyin Demir