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Pakistan rules out lockdown despite surge in Covid cases

Asad Umar says govt focusing on ramping up vaccinations after sharp increase in positivity ratio

National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar has said that the government has no intentions of imposing a new coronavirus lockdown for now despite the rapid upsurge in infections over the last two weeks.

He said that instead of lockdowns, the government was focusing on ramping up vaccinations and strict implementation of the bans placed earlier on certain activities if one was not vaccinated.

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“For now, we are closely monitoring the numbers from Pakistan and across the globe; we are emphasising on vaccinations,” he said.

The NCOC has already warned earlier this week that the omicron variant-driven fifth wave was already spreading in the country at a “great pace”.

“There are clear indications that a new wave has started, the positivity ratio that was around 0.6, 0.7 and 0.8 in the past several weeks, now in a very short span of time, there is a sharp increase in that,” said Asad Umar.

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The strain was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong in November, with the first known case in Pakistan identified last month in a woman who had no travel history outside the country.

Amid a sharp rise in the COVID-19 cases across Pakistan, SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan warned people to not take Omicron “lightly” as hospitalisation will increase in the next one to two weeks.

The country’s top health official advised the public to follow the COVID-19 SOPs and get vaccinated at the earliest. “It’s still a bit early to draw conclusions since it takes 1-2 weeks for hospitalisations to go up. Also, let us see how the virus behaves regarding virulence,” Dr Sultan said when asked as to why hospitalisations were not going up in Karachi despite an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity ratio exceeded 2 per cent in a single day for the first time since October 14 last year, as 1,085 new infections were detected during the last 24 hours with the number of new cases recorded more than doubling from last week.

On October 14, 2021, the positivity ratio stood at 2.03%. Daily infections have crossed the 1,000-mark for the first time since October 14. As per the statistics issued by NCOC, the new cases pushed the positivity rate to 2.32 per cent, which is a 0.5 per cent increase in Wednesday’s ratio of 1.8 per cent.

As many as five patients succumbed to the virus in the last 24 hours, while 636 patients are in critical condition. The casualties took the nationwide death tally to 28,955, while 247 patients recuperated, placing the number of total recoveries at 1,257,847.

Alvi tests Covid positive, again

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi said that he has again tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have tested positive for Covid again. Had a sore throat for 4-5 days & was getting better. Felt mildly feverish for a few hours two nights ago. No other symptoms,” Alvi said in a tweet.

The president also urged the people and friends to resume precautions and follow the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

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