Only matter of weeks before Omicron hits Pakistan: Minister
Pakistan’s planning minister Asad Umar (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)
IT IS only a matter of a few weeks before the Covid-19 Omicron variant hits Pakistan, the head of Pakistan’s anti-coronavirus task force has warned.
Federal planning minister Asad Umar, who is the chief of National Command and Control Center (NCOC), tasked to tackle the pandemic, said the world was so interconnected that it was impossible to stop a new variant from spreading in the world.
Umar urged people to get vaccinated as a precaution against the Omicron variant.
“This variant (Omicron) will come to Pakistan, and we have next 2-3 weeks to reduce its threat,” he said in Islamabad on Monday (29).
The Omicron variant, feared to spread faster and partially reduce vaccine protection, was identified in South Africa earlier this week and considered as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
A ‘variant of concern’ is the WHO’s top category of worrying Covid-19 variants.
In addition to South Africa, cases have been detected in many countries, including Australia, Germany, Israel, Hong Kong and the UK.
Countries around the world are currently racing to introduce travel bans and restrictions on southern African countries in an effort to contain the Omicron spread.
European countries along with the UK, Mauritius, Israel, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the US, Pakistan and the Netherlands have imposed a ban on southern African countries to contain the spread of the new variant.
Umar announced that a big vaccination campaign against Covid-19 would be launched in the next 2-3 days.
He said more than 50 million people of Pakistan have been completely vaccinated, while another 30 million have been given only one dose.
Advisor on health, Dr Faisal Sultan, said that the genetic makeup of Omicron had shown numerous mutations, enabling it to spread fast.
He said it was not possible to block its entry into Pakistan.
Pakistan had on Saturday (27) imposed a complete ban on travel from six African countries – South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia – and Hong Kong.