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'Variant of concern': WHO names new Covid variant as Omicron

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it may spread more quickly than other forms.

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'Variant of concern': WHO names new Covid variant as Omicron
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Preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection and there had been a "detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology," it said in a statement after a closed meeting of independent experts who reviewed the data.

Infections in South Africa had risen steeply in recent weeks, coinciding with detection of the variant now designated as omicron, WHO said.

"This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other (variants of concern), it said.

Omicron is the fifth variant to carry such a designation.
"This variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage," the WHO said.

Current PCR tests continue to successfully detect the variant, it said.

Earlier, the WHO cautioned countries against hastily imposing travel restrictions linked to the variant of COVID-19, saying they should take a "risk-based and scientific approach".

Global authorities reacted with alarm to the new variant detected in South Africa, with the EU and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists sought to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant. L1N2SH089

"At this point, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. "The WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk-based and scientific approach when implementing travel measures."

It would take several weeks to determine the variant's transmissibility and the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics against it, he said, noting that 100 sequences of the variant have been reported so far.

People should continue to wear masks whenever possible, avoid large gatherings, ventilate rooms and maintain hand hygiene, Lindmeier added.

Mike Ryan, WHO's emergency director, praised South African public health institutions for picking up the signal of the new variant.

But he warned that while some countries had systems in place to do this, the situation elsewhere was often unclear.

"So it's really important that there are no knee-jerk responses here. Especially with relation to South Africa," he said. "Because we've seen in the past, the minute that there is any mention of any kind of variation, then everyone is closing borders and restricting travel."

SOURCE: REUTERS

 

Faisal Ali Ghumman

Mr. Ghumman is a seasoned journalist who has 19 years of diversified experience in print, electronic and digital media. He has worked with 92 News HD, Daily Pakistan Today, Daily The Business, Daily Dawn, Daily Times and Pakistan Observer as News Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Web Content Editor and Article Writer. Mr Ghumman has graduated from the Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan and is currently enrolled in M.Phil in Mass Communication at the University of Punjab.

Crime

Two alleged terrorists killed, cop martyred in Islamabad face-off

Two motorcyclists opened fire on policemen at a picket

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Two alleged terrorists killed, cop martyred in Islamabad face-off

Islamabad: Two alleged terrorists were killed while a police head constable was martyred in crossfire between the police and suspects at a police picket on Monday, police said.

Some policemen were performing duty at Jilania police check post in Sector G-8 when two motorcylists reached there and opened fire on cops.

The exchange of gunfire led to killing of two suspects. A policeman also lost his life. Two other cops suffered injuries who were shifted to a state hospital.

Senior police officers rushed to the spot. Karachi Company police are dealing the case and collecting evidence from the crime scene. 

The Islamabad police chief told reporters that the incident was reported at around 9:30pm.

The suspects, who were killed, were terrorists, he said, adding they were wearing bullet proof jackets.

 

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Pakistan

No substitute for selfless leadership of Imran Khan: Usman Buzdar

Pakistan has got truthful and honest leader

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No substitute for selfless leadership of Imran Khan: Usman Buzdar

Lahore: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Monday has said that lamp of negative politics of opposition has gone out, there is no substitute for the selfless leadership of Imran Khan.

In a statement, Usman Buzdar has said that opposition leaders have become restless due to from power. “In Shaa Allah this restlessness will continue even after 2023. They do criticism just for the sake of criticism for improving their political impression,” he added.

He said that the people who polluted politics with corruption their place is jail. The chief minister said that there is not any substitute of selfless leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Pakistan has got truthful and honest leader. We performed those tasks in 42 months which previous governments could not perform in years.

"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has done great work in three and a half years which the previous governments could not do in decades", Usman Buzdar concluded.

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Regional

Two children killed, another injured in grenade explosion in Swat

The victims were apparently playing with a grenade at the time of the incident

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Two children killed, another injured in grenade explosion in Swat

Swat: Two children were killed and other was wounded after a hand-grenade they were playing exploded in Nimaki village of tehsil Habal on Monday, police said.

Police said the two victims were pronounced dead on the spot by paramedics, while the injured was transported to the tehsil headquarters hospital.

Police are probing the incident.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan expressed his profound grief over the deaths of kids.

He ordered the police to probe the incident and submit report to his office.

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