ISLAMABAD: As the positivity ratio of Covid-19 has increased across the country with the highest 23 per cent recorded in Gilgit, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faial Sultan on Thursday revealed that local transmission of Delta variant had started in Pakistan.

The country has reported the highest number of cases since May 29 and the number of active cases has increased by 30pc in one month.

On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that the vaccination certificate is not considered currently a requirement for travel to the country.

Dr Faial Sultan informed the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services during a meeting, presided over by Senator Dr Humayun Mohmand, that traces of Delta variant were being reported from different parts of the country, including Islamabad and Karachi.

23pc positivity rate in Gilgit, 19.29pc in Karachi reported; UAE exempts Pakistanis from vaccination certificate

“So far Delta variant has been reported in 95 countries and now it is spreading in Pakistan. However, we cannot tell the exact number of cases in Pakistan as geo-sequencing is done once in a week. It is not possible to do geo-sequencing on a daily basis. The United Kingdom has succeeded in doing so because it has resources. In Karachi, South African variant is also being reported,” he said.

About PakVac (Cansino), the SAPM said the vaccine had been tried in Pakistan and all the people voluntarily participated in its clinical trial.

When Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Rubina Khalid asked about the results of the clinical trial, the SAPM said hospitals did not maintain the record of results.

Earlier, Dr Sultan tweeted that while national positivity rate was 5.2pc, people should wear masks and avoid crowded places even if they were vaccinated. He also said that over 580,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered on July 14.

During a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the participants expressed concern over the rising positivity rate across the country.

An NCOC document, available with Dawn, shows that Karachi reported 19.29pc positivity rate on Thursday, with 21,876 persons in quarantine and 834 in hospitals and 61 on ventilators. There was 21pc positivity rate in Muzaffarabad, 12pc in Rawalpindi, 9.42pc in Peshawar, 7pc in Quetta and 6.22pc in Islamabad.

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar tweeted: “Rapid buildup starting to take place in Covid patients hospital inflow, as well as patients in critical care. This Indian variant has caused devastation in countries in the region. Please follow SOPs and get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do not risk your own & others lives.”

The NCOC data showed that 47 deaths and 2,545 cases were reported in a single day. The number of cases was the highest since May 29 when 2,697 cases were reported. The number of active cases, which was around 31,000 last month, increased by 30pc to 42,330 as of July 15.

UAE guidelines

Meanwhile, on Thursday evening, the UAE embassy in Islamabad issued a tweet, clarifying its guidelines for Pakistani travellers.

On its Twitter handle, @uaeembassyisb, the UAE embassy said: “The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Islamabad, would like to clarify that the vaccination certificate of Covid-19 is not considered currently a requirement for travel to the UAE.”

The clarification follows a letter issued earlier in the day by the UAE embassy containing fresh guidelines which made it mandatory for Pakistani travellers to keep with them Covid-19 verification certificate issued by Nadra. It is pertinent to mention that before that letter the Pakistani passengers were required to get the certificate attested by the UAE embassy in Pakistan, as well as the Foreign Office.

Although special flights, including cargo operation, are continuing between the UAE and Pakistan, regular passenger flights are expected to resume after Eidul Azha, officials said.

Meanwhile, Pakistani nationals can get Qatar’s tourist visa on arrival at Doha airport for 30 days which will be extendable for a similar period. “In line with the Qatar immigration policy for tourists’ visa on arrival for Pakistani nationals for a fee of QAR 100 valid for a period of 30 days which can be extended for a similar period,” a travel alert issued by Qatar Airways said.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2021

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