Pakistan on Friday confirmed that the “Indian strain” of the coronavirus – a “double-mutant” variant – was detected in the country.
The country’s Health Ministry said in a statement that a case of an Indian variant has been traced after “whole-genome sequencing of SARS CoV-2 samples was collected during the first three weeks of May 2021.”
“The sequencing results confirmed detection of seven cases of B.1.351 [South African variant] and one case of B.1.617.2 [Indian variant]. This is the first in-country detection of the latter strain,” the statement added without specifying the cities or provinces where these viruses were detected.
The new variant is considered to be responsible for a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in neighboring India.
Last week, the wife of an Indian diplomat returning from India tested positive for coronavirus after rapid testing at the northeastern Wagah border.
However, the authorities did not reveal the kind of the virus.
“As per protocols, contact tracing of all the cases are in progress,” the statement further said, adding that continued detection of global strains highlights the ongoing need for “guidelines, usage of masks and need for vaccination.”
Pakistan has already banned land and air travel from India, citing concerns about the spread of the latest coronavirus variant.
The two South Asian nuclear rivals have been grappling with a devastating COVID-19 wave, while the situation in Pakistan has been considered relatively better compared to India, where hospitals are reportedly running out of beds and oxygen supplies.
Pakistan’s overall COVID-19 caseload has reached 913,784 with 20,607 deaths since March 2020.
The country recorded 2,482 new cases and 67 deaths on Friday.