Pakistan has reported 3,752 coronavirus cases during the last 24 hours, taking the national positivity rate to a whopping 7.51 per cent as the country battles a fourth wave of the pandemic.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre, this is the highest number of cases reported since May 21 when 4,007 infections were reported, and a dramatic overnight increase from the 2,819 cases reported a day earlier.
Meanwhile, the positivity rate in the country is the highest since May 19 when it was recorded as 8.23pc.
During the last 24 hours, 49,947 tests were carried out and another 32 deaths were reported. The total number of cases in the country has risen to 1,008,446 and the death toll from the virus stands at 23,048.
Covid-19 positivity rate in major cities
- Karachi: 24.82pc
- Muzaffarabad: 19.76pc
- Rawalpindi: 18.59pc
- Skardu: 14.66pc
- Peshawar: 12.41pc
- Islamabad: 10.95pc
The NCOC data also showed that 38pc of ventilators were occupied in Islamabad, followed by 20pc in Lahore, 17pc in Peshawar and 15pc in Multan. Meanwhile, 51pc of oxygen beds were occupied in Gilgit, 47pc in Karachi, 30pc in Muzaffarabad and 24pc in Rawalpindi.
President urges Pakistanis to 'get serious'
Sounding alarm over the dramatic increase in cases, President Dr Arif Alvi urged citizens to "get serious".
"Cases have shot up post-Eid. I was expecting and warning about it as I saw carelessness in [the] streets, bazaars, [and at] weddings and mosques," he said, calling upon the people to "pull their act together" and follow SOPs.
He also urged Pakistanis to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones. "Don't let the recent gains towards stability [be] sacrificed on the alter of neglect. You are a rising nation, so the important test is to 'rise to the occasion'," he said.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman also voiced her concern at the country's Covid-19 data.
"Less than seven million people have been fully vaccinated. Only 44,000 tests conducted in the last 24 hours. If SOP compliance and testing remains low, we are heading towards a Covid disaster," she warned.
The increase in cases comes days after the Sindh government decided to reimpose coronavirus restrictions from Monday (today), banning indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and curbing market timings due to an increase in cases.
A day earlier, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar — who also heads the NCOC — had said that all major cities were aiming to vaccinate 40pc of the eligible population by the end of August.
“Total vaccinations carried out so far now exceed 25 million. Total number of people vaccinated has now crossed 20 million. Further acceleration being planned for August. By end [of] August all major cities target to have at least 40pc of eligible population vaccinated,” Umar had tweeted on Sunday.
The more transmissible Delta variant is believed to be responsible for the country's fourth Covid-19 wave. First identified in India in March, the Delta variant has spread to more than 90 countries and is also the most dominant variant in India, the United Kingdom, Russia, Israel, Singapore and more than a dozen other countries.
The variant, scientists say, has features that allow it to evade some of the body’s immune system defences. Plus, it has the highest transmissibility of any variant so far.
At the start of July, Prime Minister Imran Khan had issued a clear warning of a looming fourth wave, terming the Delta variant “the biggest concern”. The concerns were also echoed by Asad Umar, who said that there were clear signs of a fourth Covid-19 wave starting in Pakistan.
Despite the warnings, cases have been steadily rising over the past month. On July 15, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faial Sultan had said that local transmission of Delta variant had started in Pakistan.
According to the Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at the University of Karachi, there is 92.2pc prevalence of the Delta variant in the city.
Dr Qaiser Sajjad, secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association, had said that citizens should not think that getting a vaccine jab minimises the need to follow SOPs.
"With the lethal Indian variant fast spreading in the country particularly in Karachi, the need for vaccination is all the more important," he said.
Last week, public and some private sector hospitals in Karachi had started refusing patients after reaching capacity. Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of Jinnah Hospital, had said that 77 out of its 90 coronavirus beds were occupied and it was planned to add more.
"We did not face such a capacity situation during previous waves. The situation is getting pretty bad," Jamali had said.