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Balochistan Seeks Verification of Suspected Omicron Infections

by Newsweek Pakistan
Coronavirus test results

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Provincial authorities say 12 of the 32 suspected cases of the new variant of coronavirus have been placed under quarantine

The Balochistan government on Wednesday reported that 32 cases of the coronavirus reported from Kalat district over the past two days show indications of the Omicron “variant of concern,” adding that the samples have been sent to Islamabad’s National Institute of Health for verification.

Dr. Naqibullah Niazi, the in-charge of the COVID-19 operation cell in Balochistan, told local media that all the suspected cases of Omicron had been reported from Kalat over the past two days. He said that all the patients had tested positive for coronavirus and some of their symptoms suggested the presence of the new variant that has been sweeping across the world since being originally identified by South Africa last month.

The new suspected cases have not yet been confirmed by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), which is likely awaiting the results of the genomic sequencing required to determine if the infections are of Omicron or an earlier variant of COVID-19.

According to officials of the Balochistan Health Department, 12 of the suspected cases have been quarantined. “We are trying to track the other people,” Dr. Niazi added. The officials also said that none of the suspected Omicron cases had any travel history, suggesting local transmission of the new variant if it is confirmed.

Pakistan confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant earlier this month. The patient, a woman from Karachi, had no travel history and has since fully recovered.

Last month, Planning Minister Asad Umar told media that the arrival of Omicron to Pakistan was “inevitable,” adding that the best way to avoid the worst affects of the pandemic was to get vaccinated as soon as possible. He urged all citizens who hadn’t yet been fully vaccinated to complete their inoculations, stressing that this was the only way to ensure that people’s lives and livelihoods weren’t hampered.

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