LAHORE: Ninety percent of coronavirus cases detected in Punjab over the last three months have been of the UK variant of COVID-19, sources in the province’s health department told Geo News on Saturday.

The health department’s figures show that 13,800 cases were reported in February, 36,600 infections were detected in March and 34,400 cases were registered in April — taking the positive cases past 80,000.

The sources said 90% of the cases in the last three months were of the UK variant, and 10% were of the Wuhan variant. They said the province had not detected the presence of Brazilian or South African variants.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination said the South African and Brazilian variants of coronavirus had been detected in the country, urging people to continue taking precautions and register for a vaccine.

It said the health authorities and the National Command and Operation Centre were regularly monitoring COVID-19 variants of concern.

“As a result of this proactive effort, one sample of the SARS-COV-2; B.1.351 (“South African” variant) and one sample of SARS-COV-2; P1 (“Brazil”) variant have been detected at the National Institute of Health through genome sequencing.”

According to officials of the National Institute of Health, the B.1.351 variant was detected in a sample taken from a man belonging to Mianwali while the P1 virus was identified from a person whose test was conducted at Islamabad’s Polyclinic.

The NIH officials maintained that these strains spread at a fast pace and it is premature to say anything about the vaccine efficacy against these variants.

“The authorities are actively engaged in contact tracing of these positive cases,” the ministry added.

Regardless of which variants have been detected, the SOPs recommended globally continue to be our first line of defence against the coronavirus, it added.

“Please ensure that you wear a mask, practice social distancing, and do not leave your home unnecessarily.”

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