PMA Concerns Over Spread Of Two New Variants Of COVID

Dr. Shoro maintained that the PMA recommends that the government implement strict preventive measures at airports and other points of entry.

PMA Concerns Over Spread Of Two New Variants Of COVID

Despite the federal government’s assurances of vigilance, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) expressed grave concern on Saturday about the spread of two new COVID-19 variants, Gryphon (Omicron XBB) and BF.7, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, in China, India, Bangladesh, Japan, the United States, Australia, and Denmark.

“Although the Covid-19 situation in the country is under control and the positivity ratio of Covid-19 is 0.5 percent, the government should become more vigilant and take all necessary preventive measures to avoid the spread of new variants in the country,” PMA Honorary Secretary General Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro said in a statement.

Dr. Shoro maintained that the PMA recommends that the government implement strict preventive measures at airports and other points of entry. The COVID-19 vaccination should be required for both international and domestic travel. Passengers who exhibit symptoms should be isolated and PCR tests performed.

“The PMA further suggests that the general public be prepared and, even at this stage, follow COVID-19 SOPs: wear a mask whenever you go out, wash or sanitise your hands at regular intervals, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands. Maintain a social distance and avoid large crowds. Avoid handshakes and hugging. Avoid sneezing and coughing openly; cover your cough and sneeze with your arm rather than your hands. Do not share your paraphernalia, such as a glass, plate, or cup.”

The PMA official stated that people who have not been vaccinated should get vaccinated immediately and receive a booster dose six months after the second dose to remain safe and protected from the new COVID-19 variants and sub-variants.

Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho stated on Thursday that due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in China caused by a new sub-variant, they had requested the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) to test all passengers arriving from China at airports across the country and quarantine those who tested positive for the viral infection.

“The new sub-variant of COVID-19 has spread in China and is responsible for the surge in cases. Because this variant has yet to be reported in Pakistan, we must take precautionary measures to deal with it. We have written a letter to the NCOC requesting that new SOPs and guidelines be developed and that every passenger arriving in the country from China be tested at the airports,” he said after inaugurating a paediatric cardiac high dependency unit (HDU) at the Civil Hospital Karachi.

The pediatric  cardiac HDU was established with financial assistance and support from former Dow Medical College (DMC) students from the 1997 batch. Prof. Saeed Quraishy, Vice Chancellor, Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), Medical Superintendent, CHK Rubina Bashir, President, Dow Class of 1997 Dr. Ghazanfar Qureshi, Dr. Naheed Mahar, and Dr. Ammara Jamal also attended the inauguration ceremony.

The health minister insisted that efforts were being made to prevent the spread of new COVID-19 variants in the country because Pakistan was unable to deal with any new wave of the pandemic due to economic constraints.

“Treating patients in the ICUs and HDUs requires millions of rupees on a daily basis, and in the present economic situation, so much spending is not possible by both the government and the people. The only option is to postpone the arrival of new variants in Pakistan and to prevent them by following SOPs.”

Pechuho stated that they have asked the NCOC to issue new SOPs and guidelines and that all inbound passengers on flights from China should be tested for COVID-19 at airports. In the event of a positive result, the person will be quarantined until they test negative for the virus, she said, adding that serology tests on confirmed positive cases have been proposed.

“A large number of false-negative cases of the new COVID-19 variant have also been reported,” she said, citing their letter to the NCOC.

She also stated that they have proposed mandating the administration of Pfizer booster doses to people who were immunized six months ago, particularly those over the age of 65.

“The establishment of isolation centers for positive cases and those with symptoms but negative tests is also one of our requests to the NCOC.” “As part of the pneumonia investigation, such people must have chest x-rays,” she explained.