Omicron variant: No case detected in Pakistan so far, says Dr Faisal Sultan

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ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said that no case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Pakistan.

Talking to Geo Pakistan, Dr Faisal Sultan shared that a meeting is scheduled today at the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) during which guidelines and policies regarding the vaccination will be finalised.

“We cannot control the Omicron variant from coming to Pakistan, but we can control its impact by ramping up the immunisation process,” the health minister said.

“Our priority is those who have not been vaccinated at all.”

“With more people immunized, we can control the impact. It is my appeal to the people to get vaccinated and follow SOPs,” he added.

What is Omicron?

In a brief interview with Geo News, Dr Sultan explained that the virus is detected by examining the spike protein for certain mutations that could be concerning.

He said that the available information [regarding Omicron] at the moment is based on assumptions. However, he said that after observing South Africa’s surge in infections, it has been established that the new strain’s transmissibility is faster than any previously detected variant of COVID-19.

He also said that any information regarding disease severity and the ability of the virus to “escape” the immune response in vaccinated or recovered people is still not confirmed.

Preventive measures and travel policies

Speaking about the travel restrictions, Dr Sultan said that it has been a challenge to locate the origin of the flights since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Travel restrictions have not served as a means to control the virus. We can delay it [Omicron] but we cannot prevent it from coming to Pakistan.”

Dr Sultan said that the NCOC has taken all hospitals and their staff on board to deal with any emergency situation that may arise in the country.

Booster shots

At the moment, the government’s priority is those who have not been vaccinated, Dr Sultan noted, adding that the new plan for rapid immunisation has been made and will be announced at an NCOC meeting on Tuesday.

He also stated that information on booster shots for those who are fully vaccinated will be shared at the meeting.

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