A minor increase was witnessed on Saturday in new COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, data from the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) showed.
According to the NIH data, 23,423 diagnostic tests were performed in the last 24 hours, with 693 returning positive, indicating a 2.96 percent positivity ratio. The virus claimed two more lives in the last 24 hours, bringing up the national toll to 30,464. NIH said 180 COVID-19 patients are still being treated in intensive-care units (ICU) at various medical facilities across the country. BA.5, part of the Omicron family, is the latest coronavirus variant to cause widespread waves of infection globally.
According to the World Health Organisation’s most recent report, it was behind 52% of cases sequenced in late June, up from 37pc in one week. In the United States, it is estimated to be causing around 65% of infections. BA.5 is not new. First identified in January, it has been tracked by the WHO since April. It is a sister variant of the Omicron strain that has been dominant worldwide since the end of 2021 and has already caused spikes in case rates in countries including South Africa, where it was first found, as well as the UK, parts of Europe, and Australia.
Coronavirus cases worldwide have now been rising for four weeks in a row, WHO data showed. Like its closely related sibling, BA.4, BA.5 is particularly good at evading the immune protection afforded either by vaccination or prior infection. For this reason, “BA.5 has a growth advantage over the other sublineages of Omicron that are circulating,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, told a news briefing on Tuesday. For many people, this means they are getting re-infected, often even a short time after having COVID-19. Van Kerkhove said the WHO is assessing reports of re-infections.