Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, officials said, just two days after he received his first vaccination against the disease.
The former cricket player received a shot of the Chinese-produced Sinopharm vaccine on Thursday, as the country battles a third wave of the virus.
“At this point, the prime minister’s office can only confirm that the honourable prime minister has tested positive for Covid-19 and has self-isolated,” his office said.
According to his spokesman, Shahbaz Gill, Khan was suffering from a mild cough and a mild fever. Shahbaz said the positive test was performed on Saturday.
His aides were quick to put distance between the diagnosis and his first jab of the two-dose vaccine.
“Please do not link it to the corona vaccine. Immunity develops a few weeks after the vaccine is given. Make sure to vaccinate your elders and loved ones. Be careful,” Gill added.
The PM was probably infected before he was vaccinated, during a series of public engagements, according to information minister Shibli Faraz.
Earlier Saturday, the leader’s adviser on health Faisal Sultan also said the increase in positive virus cases over the past few days was “alarming”.
According to him, this increase has caused a strain on the country’s healthcare system, particularly in the country’s most populous province of Punjab.
Case numbers were trending upward in recent weeks, soon after the UK variant was first reported in Karachi in late December.
More than 620,000 cases and nearly 13,800 deaths have been reported since the pandemic reached the country. Limited testing and further research have also suggested that the numbers are underreported, meaning the figures are probably much higher.
Impoverished Pakistan has largely avoided the major lockdowns seen in other countries, instead opting for “smart” lockdown policies which see neighbourhoods closed off for short periods, as well restrictions on indoor dining and large gatherings.
Despite these measures, however, many guidelines have been ignored, with Sultan criticising “a lack of administrative action and a lack of public compliance”.
Beijing has donated one million vaccine doses to Pakistan, which the country of more than 220 million has begun administering to health workers and people over 65 years of age.
Shortly after the pandemic began, Khan had addressed the nation, telling citizens to remain calm. “97 per cent of patients fully recover”, he had said.
Months later though, Khan once again chided citizens for their lackadaisical approach to fighting the pandemic. “People are not taking it seriously,” he said.