New COVID-19 Variant: Omicron

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WHO has declared a new coronavirus variant named Omicron, first reported from South Africa on 24 Nov. It has a 6 times higher potential to spread than the Delta variant that had triggered the second wave in Pakistan.

How bad is it?

There are increasing hospitalization rates in South Africa; however, this might be because of growing numbers of people becoming infected. According to experts, there may also be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron. Research is still ongoing all over the world.

Although no case of the new COVID-19 variant has not been reported in Pakistan, the top health official shared that the authorities are on alert, and the NCOC has taken all hospitals and their staff on board to deal with any emergency that may arise.

“We cannot control the Omicron variant from coming to Pakistan, but we can control its impact by ramping up the immunization process,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.”

He also added that “Our priority is those who have not been vaccinated at all. With more people immunized, we can control the impact. So it is my appeal to the people to get vaccinated and follow SOPs.”

While many countries have now decided to restrict travel to and from Southern Africa, the government of Pakistan has imposed new travel curbs.

  1. Vaccination Certificate
  2. Negative PCR report within 72 hours of departure
  3. RAT (rapid antigen test) report on arrival at the airport (those with negative RAT reports would have to undergo 3 days of mandatory home quarantine and another test on the third day)
  4. There will be a 10-day mandatory quarantine at a government or self-paid facility for those with positive test reports.

What’s In Our Hands?

Protecting ourselves by:

  1. Maintain a physical distance
  2. Wear a well-fitting mask
  3. Open windows to improve ventilation
  4. Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces
  5. Keep clean hands
  6. Cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue
  7. Avoid travelling & Get vaccinated
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