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Indian coronavirus variant not yet reported in Pakistan: health ministry

No case of the Indian “double mutant” coronavirus variant has so far been reported in Pakistan, the national health ministry said Monday.

The country is still safe from the Indian variant, Anadulo quoted Syed Sajid Shah, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations, as saying.

The new variant, dubbed, B.1.617 has several mutations, including two notable ones (E484Q and L452R), leading to it sometimes being called the “double mutant.”

It is believed to be behind the devastating surge in COVID-19 infections in the country. On Tuesday, India reported 323,144 new cases taking the virus tally to 17,637,023. A total of 197,945 deaths and 14,552,827 recoveries have been recorded. 

“In Maharashtra we saw (the variant first identified in India) go up, we saw an outbreak. We are seeing it go up in Delhi, we are seeing an outbreak,” said Anurag Agrawal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, at a webinar on Friday.

“It’s also important to keep in mind that these variants have spread a lot,” said Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser for the Indian government. “They constitute, by some estimates, about 60% in one state, Maharashtra.”

Cases of the UK virus variant have, however, been reported across Pakistan, Shah said.

The UK variant has been responsible for the rising number of cases in Punjab and has also been reported in Sindh.

According to a genomic study of virus samples carried out by Karachi University, 50% of samples were of the UK variant. 

“It spreads fast and is more dangerous,” the provincial health minister Dr Azra Pechuho warned. “Many cases have been reported from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and it has led to a rise in deaths.” 

Pakistan on Tuesday reported 4,487 new COVID-19 cases and 142 deaths. The tally of infections has crossed 800,000 and the death toll is now 17,329.

A total of 699,816 people have recovered from the virus, but the recovery rate has fallen to 86.9% recently.

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