Provincial government says five Pakistanis with UK coronavirus variant ‘fully recovered’  

Commuters wear face masks on a street in Karachi on February 28, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 January 2021

Provincial government says five Pakistanis with UK coronavirus variant ‘fully recovered’  

  • Sindh health ministry spokesperson says five infected with the new strain did not transmit it to their local community 
  • Pakistan is among several nations that closed borders to Britain last month after discovery of a new more infectious variant of the coronavirus there

KARACHI: Health authorities in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province said on Tuesday five people who had returned from the United Kingdom and were found to be suffering from a new variant of the coronavirus had fully recovered without transmitting the virus to local contacts and community. 

On December 29, a new variant of COVID-19 was found in the tests of three people after authorities sampled twelve who had returned from the United Kingdom. Two days later, two more patients tested positive with the same variant. 

Pakistan is among several nations that closed its borders to Britain last month after the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus there, believed to be more infectious.  

“The new Covid-19 variant was found in the UK-returned persons but all five people have tested negative and are now fully recovered,” Aatif Vigio, a spokesperson of the Sindh health department told Arab News, saying health officials took quick action, and identified and screened all local contacts of the UK returnees and found no traces of the new variant. 

“We also immediately extended the screening to the community where they resided but found no traces of the more contagious virus among them as well,” the spokesperson added.  

Most scientists say the new variant has rapidly become the dominant strain in cases of COVID-19 in parts of southern England, and has been linked to an increase in hospitalization rates.


PM Khan calls for affordable supply of COVID vaccines, debt relief for developing countries

Updated 25 January 2021

PM Khan calls for affordable supply of COVID vaccines, debt relief for developing countries

  • Pakistani prime minister delivers statement at fourth session of UN Conference on Trade and Development
  • Offers five-point agenda to address structural barriers hampering global development during pandemic

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday proposed a five-point agenda to address structural barriers hampering global development during the coronavirus pandemic, urging the "equitable and affordable" supply of vaccines to developing countries and calling for additional debt relief. 

Khan presented a statement at the fourth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Financing for Development. 

He said the pandemic offered an opportunity to address “structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development,” proposing a five-point agenda.

“One, a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID vaccine to developing countries. The coverage of the COVAX facility must be expanded. This would enable the developing countries to spend their precious resources on socio-economic development needs,” the PM said. 

He said developing nations should get additional debt relief, including suspension of debt repayments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic, restructuring of their public-sector debt under an agreed and inclusive multilateral framework; and expanding concessional financing through multilateral development banks.

“Three, a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of 500 billion dollars to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures,” Khan added. “Four, return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals ... Reportedly, a staggering amount of 7 trillion dollars is parked in 'haven' destinations. And it is also reported that one trillion dollars annually leaves the developing countries for these “haven” destinations.”

Finally, the PM said, mobilizing $100 billion annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries was a target that needed to be met. 

“Economic malaise and recession, like the coronavirus, is highly communicable,” Khan said. “Global policy measures, along the lines I have outlined, are urgently needed to save lives, revive economies, and build back better.”

Pakistan has reported 534,041 COVID-19 cases so far, and 11,318 deaths, far lower than what officials had feared.

“In Pakistan, our efforts have been aimed at ensuring that we save people from dying from the virus, and at the same time preventing them from dying from hunger,” Khan said. “Our strategy fortunately has worked well so far. But continuous efforts are needed to fully overcome the second wave of the virus. And also at the same time to maintain and stimulate economic growth.”