- Authorities say surveillance mechanism is in place at airports, other entry points.
- Authorities continuously monitoring situation, preparing for any eventuality.
- Major hospitals also ready to deal with any resurge in COVID-19 cases.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health authorities ruled out any imminent resurgence threat of COVID-19 despite the emergence of a fresh wave in China and India, however, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) has been advised to issue an advisory deal with any emergency, reported The News.
National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) summoned a special session to discuss the possibility of a resurgence of the virus following the detection of its sub-variant BF.7 which has affected China and India. The session was presided over by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt General Inam Haider Malik.
Briefing the session, National Institute of Health (NIH) authorities said over 90% of the local population is inoculated against COVID-19 with a mix and match of western, Chinese and Russian vaccines. However, authorities are continuously monitoring the situation and preparing for any eventuality.
They said the emergence of sub-variants of the Omicron variant is a routine phenomenon and more such variants and sub-variants would continue to emerge as viruses continue to evolve for their survival, adding that some wavelets could be possible due to evolving viruses and variants. Genome sequencing facilities are now available at dozens of research and diagnostic labs across the country.
Besides, a comprehensive system of surveillance is in place to detect any new variant or sub-variant of the COVID-19 virus at international airports and other entry points of the country, said an expert associated with NIH Islamabad, adding that major hospitals in the country were also ready to deal with any resurge in COVID-19 cases.
NDMA chairman directed the federal and provincial authorities to ensure the availability of treatment facilities at intensive care units (ICUs) and high dependency units (HDUs) at healthcare facilities across the country. He also instructed the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) at NIH to issue advisory and guidelines to deal with any emergency.
Explaining herd immunity, an NIH official said an entire community becomes immune to infectious disease when over 70% to 80% population develops immunity through vaccination or by contracting the disease. There is no likelihood of the spread of disease from person to person after herd immunity is achieved. After herd immunity, the whole community becomes protected not just those who are immune.
Pakistan has technically attained herd immunity as over 90% of its population is vaccinated with different western, Chinese and Russian vaccines up to the age of 12 years. Besides, the majority of the Pakistani population had also developed natural immunity after being infected with the virus once or more during the last years, the NIH official said.
Director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi, Dr Iqbal Chaudhry said that both Pakistan and India were unlikely to be affected much due to the emergence of BF.7 and other sub-variants as both the countries had achieved herd immunity through vaccination and infection with various variants of COVID-19.
The case of China is different as it never allowed the development of immunity among its population. In addition, Chinese citizens are only vaccinated with their own vaccines, which prove less effective against emerging variants, he added.