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New virus variant: KP begins hunt for 101 passengers who arrived from UK

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Women wearing facemasks walk on a street during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Peshawar. Photo: AFP

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has initiated a search for dozens of passengers who had arrived in the province from Britain in light of the new coronavirus variant that has emerged in the UK.

According to a report by the provincial health department, authorities have sent letters to deputy commissioners that include the names of at least 101 people.

The passengers arrived from the UK and went to 12 districts of the province which include Mardan, Abbottabad, and Swat. "We will test these people after tracing them," the health department officials said.

Those who test positive for the virus will be placed under quarantine, said an official of the health department, adding that the new coronavirus strain in the UK is very dangerous.

"The virus has the capability to spread rapidly from an infected person," the official added.

Pakistan updates travel restrictions

Pakistan announced its updated standard operating procedures (SOPs) for inbound travelers from the UK, after cases of the highly new infectious strain of coronavirus rose across Britain.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced Tuesday that Pakistani passport holders who have been issued the Business, Visitor or Transit visas by British authorities can return to the country provided they show a negative PCR test.

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The test, however, must have been taken 72 hours prior to the start of their travel to Pakistan, said the aviation authority.

The government has also allowed Pakistanis that hold study, family, work and settlement visas in the UK to return to Pakistan "if their visas are expiring within the next 30 days from the issuance of this letter while holding negative PCR Test Reports conducted within the 72 hours prior to commencement of travel to Pakistan".

The new variant

Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Monday due to fears about a new strain of coronavirus, said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages days before Britain is set to leave the European Union.

The discovery of the new strain, just months before vaccines are expected to be widely available, renewed fears about the virus, which has killed about 1.7 million people worldwide.

The note of calm from the CEO about the UK mutation echoed sentiments by World Health Organization (WHO), which cautioned against major alarm, saying this was a normal part of a pandemic’s evolution.


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