Two people, who recently returned from the United Kingdom, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
KP Health Secretary Imtiaz Hussain Shah said a total of 149 passengers have recently arrived in the province from Britain. The government has traced 44 people and 32 of their contacts.
Another 54 passengers have been identified across seven districts including Peshawar, Swabi and Nowshera. The district administration has been tasked to trace them.
The government has been unable to trace 46 people because they provided incorrect residential address. “In the first batch of testing, four people tested negative while results of 25 passengers are awaited,” the health official said.
The SARS-CoV-2 was identified in two passengers who have been quarantined. One of the patients has been identified in Peshawar while the other is in Abbottabad. Shah said further tests will be conducted at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad which will determine the nature of the strain.
The new strain, referred to by some experts as the B.1.17 lineage, is not the first variant of COVID-19 pandemic, but it is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the previously dominant strain in the UK.
After the British government officially announced detection of the mutation, many countries, including Pakistan, have imposed travel bans on the UK. Pakistan announced its updated standard operating procedures (SOPs) for travel restrictions imposed on inbound travelers from the United Kingdom, after cases of a highly new infectious strain of the coronavirus rose across the European country.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced Tuesday that Pakistani passport holders who have been issued the Business, Visitor or Transit visas by British authorities can return to the country provided they show a negative PCR test.
The test, however, must have been taken 72 hours prior to the start of their travel to Pakistan, said the aviation authority. It may be noted here that the Ministry of National Health Services dismissed rumours that the new strain, identified in Britain, has been detected in Pakistan.