Pakistan has recorded its first cases of a new strain of coronavirus recently discovered in the United Kingdom, officials announced on December 29.
At least three cases of the new virus strain have been confirmed in the southern province of Sindh. All three patients have recently returned from the United Kingdom.
"Samples of three U.K. returnees show a 95 percent match to the new coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom," said Meeran Yousaf, a spokesman for the Sindh health department.
Twelve samples of people who returned from the United Kingdom were taken for genotyping, out of which six were positive, and three showed the new variant of the COVID-19 virus in the first phase, the department said.
These samples will go through another phase of genotyping. Meanwhile the contact tracing of these patients is under way and their contacts are also being isolated, Yousaf said.
On December 28, Pakistan decided to extend restrictions on flights from the United Kingdom over fears of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain.
The decision to temporarily restrict flights was made on December 21, as Pakistan struggles to deal with overwhelming numbers of coronavirus infections during a second wave of the outbreak.
Educational institutions have been already been closed, and virus hotspots have been put under lockdown, but people have been seen flouting the advised precautions.
Infections have been increasing steadily in Pakistan since last month, and around 10,000 people have been claimed so far. At least 1,776 new cases and 63 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, according to Pakistani Health Ministry data.