Minister fears new wave amid fast-spreading Omicron

Published January 3, 2022
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — APP/File
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar addresses a press conference in Islamabad. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: With the positivity rate on the rise, Planning Minister Asad Umar has warned that there is clear evidence of another Covid-19 wave as cases of the new variant, Omicron, are increasing — particularly in Karachi.

Separately, a fresh international survey of 34 countries shows that life for at least 38 per cent of Pakistanis has already returned to normal, compared to a global average of 15pc.

Moreover, 28pc Pakistanis were of the opinion that the pandemic had already come to an end, compared with a mere 9pc of people in other countries

Data from the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) shows that the positivity rate, which was 1.08pc on 31st December, had reached 1.3pc on Sunday.

Moreover, the number of cases has doubled in less than a week, as data released on Sunday showed that 594 cases were reported against 291 cases on December 27. On Sunday, at least 637 patients were in critical care.

28pc of Pakistanis feel pandemic is over

According to Asad Umar, the recent surge in cases seemed to be due to the most transmissible variant of Covid-19, Omicron.

“Genome sequencing is showing a rising proportion of Omicron cases, particularly in Karachi. Remember, wearing a mask is your best protection,” he tweeted.

The survey, titled ‘Covid-19: Will The Pandemic Ever End and How Will We Know?’ conducted by market research company Ipsos in 34 countries showed that there was no consensus on what would signal the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also showed that Pakistan had the highest share of those who thought the pandemic was over.

The survey sampled 22,023 adults aged between 18-74 years and was conducted in Pakistan, United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey, Australia, Brazil, Mainland China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Hungary, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden and Switzerland.

Participants were asked about the best indicators that will show that the Covid-19 pandemic is ending and that major restrictions can be lifted. In Pakistan, at least 29pc people said that pandemic will end when three-fourths of the population is vaccinated. However, this opinion was shared by only 20pc of the people surveyed in other countries.

Replying to another question, at least 14pc believed that the pandemic may never end, whereas only 9pc of Pakistanis had similar views.

Only a quarter of those surveyed were hopeful that the pandemic would end in the current year, i.e. 2022, but in Pakistan around 17pc of those surveyed agreed with this estimate.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2022

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