Pakistan says Indian variant of COVID-19 not present in country


Islamabad, May 11: The Indian variant of the coronavirus has not been found yet in Pakistan, a senior minister in-charge of the coronavirus task force has said, rejecting reports that the Indian strain of the virus reached Thailand from the country.

According to reports, health authorities in Thailand on Monday confirmed the country's first cases of the Indian variant of the coronavirus, in a Thai woman and her 4-year-old son who have been in state quarantine since arriving from Pakistan.

The finding comes amid Thailand battling a new wave of the coronavirus.

Reacting to the reports, Minister of Planning Asad Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) -- a centralised body set up to coordinate the national COVID-19 response -- on Monday said it is not possible that two Thai nationals had contracted the Indian coronavirus variant from Pakistan as it is not yet present in the country.

Some of the variants such as UK, Brazilian and South African were reported in the country, but not a single case of Indian variant has been reported yet, he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

The Indian variant -- officially known as B.1.617 -- was first detected in the state of Maharashtra in October last year. The strain has reportedly been spotted in at least 21 countries. 

It was quite possible that the woman had contracted the virus from Thailand or somewhere else as the virus was not reported in Pakistan, Umar said.

Thailand has banned travellers from India, other than Thai citizens, starting on May 1 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

It extended the entry ban to foreigners visiting from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal on Monday in an effort to keep the Indian variant from spreading, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat said.-Agencies

Meanwhile, Pakistan's coronavirus death toll reached 19,106 on Tuesday with 113 succumbing to the viral infection in the last 24 hours, health officials said.

The nationwide confirmed cases now stand at 864,557 with 3,684 new cases, they said.-Agencies

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