Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday, taking notice of the detection of highly-infectious sub-variant of Omicron virus, directed the restoration of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). The prime minister ordered immediate restoration of the NCOC after the country a day earlier had reported its first case of Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1. He also sought a report from the Ministry of National Health on the current situation of the virus in the country. The National Institute of Health (NIH), had detected a case of Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1 through genome sequencing and reported that the new sub-variant was causing an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in different countries. The NIH advised people to take the best preventive measure to avoid contracting the virus, which is vaccination against it. The NCOC was formed in March 2020 by the PTI government to oversee its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The forum provided the overall direction to provincial authorities on how to contain outbreaks and its data-driven approach kept the nation updated on daily cases, deaths, recoveries, and number of vaccinations. It was dissolved by the PTI last month after Covid cases in the country subsided. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s House, the premier took notice of the new variant of Omicron and its growing cases. “He has also sought a report from the National Institute of Health (NIH) over the current Covid-19 situation,” it said. The development comes a day after the NIH – which has been looking after Covid-related matters since the NCOC was formally shut down last month – revealed that the first case of the Omicron sub-variant, BA.2.12 had been detected in the country. A health ministry official said that the patient tested positive at the airport and later, during genome sequencing, it was confirmed that he was infected with the new variant. “We have decided not to mention the name of the country from where the patient had travelled to Pakistan. However, the new variant has been continuously spreading in different countries. The patient is feeling well and all his contacts have been quarantined at their home,” he said. “Although the variant is more transmissible, the good thing is that all the vaccines are effective against it. So we request the masses to get themselves vaccinated at the earliest and those who have been vaccinated, should get their booster shots,” he cautioned. The new Omicron sub-variant is a descendant of the earlier super-contagious “stealth Omicron” and has quickly gained ground in the US. BA.2.12.1 was responsible for 29 per cent of new US Covid-19 infections in April’s third week, according to data reported by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. And it caused 58pc of reported infections in the New York region. The variant has been detected in at least 13 other countries, but the US has the highest levels of it so far. Scientists say it spreads even faster than stealth Omicron. The development comes as Pakistan is witnessing a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases, which have dropped significantly during the past few weeks. According to the NIH data, 64 new cases of the virus were reported across the country in the last 24 hours and their positivity rate was 0.49 per cent. As many as 92 patients were receiving critical care.