Pakistan on Tuesday confirmed its first cases of the new coronavirus variant recently detected in the United Kingdom (UK). The Sindh health department in a tweet said samples of 12 UK returnees were taken for genotyping, out of which six tested positive, whereas three showed a 95 per cent match with the new variant, and will be sent for a second phase of genotyping. “Meanwhile the contact tracing of these patients is in process and their contacts are being isolated also,” the provincial health department maintained. The UK reported the detection of SARS-COV-2; B.1.1.7, also called VOC-202012/01, earlier this month. Preliminary analysis by their experts suggested that this particular variant may be more transmissible. However, there is no evidence so far to suggest that the infection caused by this variant is more severe. This strain has also been detected in other countries. Pakistan has taken a number of steps to respond to this development. Earlier this month, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) decided to limit and restrict travel from UK to Pakistan only to certain categories of travellers and only under strict protocols. Moreover, track, trace and quarantine was also initiated for passengers who had arrived from the UK as far as seven days before the announcement of these travel restrictions. In addition, viruses detected from individuals coming from the UK are also being evaluated in select laboratories for the presence of this variant. Based on this proactive effort, there are five samples [two at the National Institute of Health and three at the Aga Khan University hospital in Karachi] which may have the variant strain, based on preliminary analysis. These results have to be confirmed through further analysis which will take a few more days to complete. The national tally of total active Covid-19 cases in Pakistan on Tuesday reached 39,599 with 1,776 more people tested positive for the deadly virus and 1,602 people recovered from the Coronavirus during the last 24 hours. Sixty-three patients, 54 of whom were under treatment in hospitals and nine in their respective homes or quarantines, died on Monday, according to the latest update issued by the NCOC. Most of the deaths occurred in Punjab followed by the Sindh. Out of the total 63 deaths, 31 patients died on ventilators. No Covid-affected person is on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) while 305 ventilators are occupied elsewhere in Pakistan. The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major areas including Multan 49 percent, ICT 40 percent, Peshawar 32 percent and Lahore 32 percent. The Oxygen beds (oxygen providing facility other than ventilator as per patient’s medical requirement) were also occupied in four major areas as in ICT 33 percent, Rawalpindi 31 percent, Peshawar 64 percent and Multan 40 percent. Some 30,666 tests were conducted across the country on Monday, including 9,320 in Sindh, 12,574 in Punjab, 4,219 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 3,840 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 219 in Balochistan, 245 in GB, and 249 in AJK. Around 425,494 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 86 percent recovery ratio of the affected patients. Since the pandemic outbreak, a total of 475,085 cases were detected that also included the perished, recovered and under treatment COVID-19 patients so far, including AJK 8,235, Balochistan 18,099, GB 4,853, ICT 37,390, KP 57,746, Punjab 136,669 and Sindh 212,093. About 9,992 deaths were recorded in country since the eruption of the contagion.