The first-ever case of the highly infectious B.1.617 variant of coronavirus, first identified in India, has been detected in Pakistan despite a ban on travellers from the neighbouring country since April, the country’s top health institute here has said. The National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday shared the results of whole-genome sequencing of SARS CoV-2 samples collected during the first three weeks of May 2021, The Express Tribune reported on Friday.
The sequencing results confirmed the detection of seven cases of B.1.351 [South African variant] and one case of B.1.617.2 [first identified in India]. This is the first in-country detection of the latter strain, the NIH said in a statement.
As per protocols, contact tracing of all the cases is in progress by the Field Epidemiology & Disease Surveillance Division and District Health Office (DHO), Islamabad, the report said.
The NIH said the continued detection of global strains highlighted the ongoing need for observation of guidelines, usage of masks and need for vaccination.
After India’s outbreak of COVID-19 fuelled by the new strain earlier this year, Pakistan in April imposed a ban on travellers arriving from the neighbouring country via the air, sea and land routes, he report said.
However, in May, the variant was detected in Thai travellers who had visited Pakistan, the report said.
Health authorities in Thailand had confirmed the country’s first cases of the variant first identified in India in a Thai woman and her 4-year-old son who were reportedly put in state quarantine since arriving from Pakistan, it said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said that the B.1.617 strain of coronavirus was found in dozens of countries all over the world.