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Updated 19 July 2022

Centaurus, the Omicron subvariant has been viral across the internet and has caused widespread concern due to the high-transmissible of Omicron. This subvariant was first detected in India in May, but it is believed that it has grown stronger and could even be more transmissible than the other variants before it.

How will the Centaurus subvariant affect travel in Pakistan? Has the new subvariant been detected in Pakistan yet? Here’s everything we know so far about the subvariant in Pakistan.

BA.2.75 — What is the Centaurus variant?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Centaurus is an Omicron subvariant that is believed to have undergone a mutation that might have been a “major immune escape”, which means it could be as highly mutated as the Omicron variant.

The statistics also demonstrate that rapidly spreading sub-variants of Omicron, such as Centaurus, are to blame for the rise in positive COVID-19 cases, even though the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control currently lists it as a “variant under monitoring” rather than a “variant of concern”.

However, Centaurus is not the official nickname of the subvariant BA.2.75. Global health authorities were not involved in giving a name. The WHO, which is in charge of the process, chose Omicron and declined to offer a different term for a sub-variant. The WHO is still referring to it as Omicron for the time being since it is a descendant of Omicron, although having some extra mutations.

Where has the Centaurus variant been detected?

The Centaurus sub-variant was first detected in India in May, though it was not as strong as it is right now. Until now, it has been detected in several countries such as Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands.

What are the symptoms of the Centaurus variant?

According to research so far, the Centaurus sub-variant exhibits many of the same symptoms as the earlier variants. Although, an app called ZOE which asks its users to track the symptoms of COVID-19 records that headache is the most-reported symptom.

The NHS continues to recommend everyone keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • A high temperature or shivering (chills)
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • An aching body
  • A headache
  • A sore throat
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick

What are the risks associated with the Centaurus variant?

It is still too early to say whether BA.2.75 or Centaurus subvariant indicates the start of the following dominant branch of SARS-CoV-2 because there is no indication yet that it is more severe. Experimental research is required to confirm any potential immunity-elimination abilities, and epidemiological data is required to determine whether it will have a significant influence on public health.

Its appearance is yet another illustration of the SARS-CoV-2’s remarkable ability to adapt, as well as a warning that new variations and subvariants will continue to appear as long as several people remain sick.

Centaurus variant and travel to Pakistan

So far, the health authorities of Pakistan haven’t announced any cases of Centaurus subvariant. In other words, the travel restrictions still remain the same:

All passengers 12 years old who can provide evidence of vaccination in order to travel to Pakistan will not be required to present evidence of a negative COVID test prior to travel. Passengers aged 12 and above without proof of vaccination will require proof of a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before arrival.

Passengers under the age of 12 do not require proof of vaccination nor proof of a negative PCR test.

Please note that most land borders with Afghanistan are closed, with crossings continuing at the Torkham border crossing for those with valid passports and Pakistani visas. Border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan may close at short notice.

Passengers arriving in Pakistan are required to download and register their details on the ‘Pass Track App’ before arrival. If you do not have the App downloaded, you will be asked to complete a health declaration form.

Non-Pakistani passport holders who are aged 18 and above must provide proof of being fully vaccinated in order to board domestic flights.