Omicron drives Pakistan’s fifth wave of pandemic

Published January 4, 2022
Islamabad: Lab technicians wait for people to take coronavirus tests at the PIMS Hospital on Monday.—AP
Islamabad: Lab technicians wait for people to take coronavirus tests at the PIMS Hospital on Monday.—AP

• Over 700 cases detected in a single day first time since Oct 30
• Renewed call for people to observe SOPs

ISLAMABAD / KARACHI: As the continued surge in national positivity rate has been observed and Karachi’s positivity rate has risen to 6 per cent from 2pc in just three days, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Monday announced the start of Omicron-driven fifth wave of Covid-19 in the country.

Pakistan reported over 700 cases of Covid-19 in a single day which is the highest number of cases since Oct 30, 2021.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan warned about unmistakable upward trend in the positivity rate and advised the masses to wear masks, keep social distancing and get vaccinated.

An NCOC session discussed the epidemic curve chart data, national vaccination strategy and disease prevalence across the country.

The session was jointly chaired by federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and NCOC National Coordinator Maj Gen Mohammad Zafar Iqbal and attended by federal Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub Khan and Dr Sultan.

The forum agreed to take strict measures regarding obligatory vaccination regime.

“The NCOC reviewed the spread of the disease and it was revealed that the fifth wave of Covid-19, which is Omicron-driven, is spreading in the country at a fast pace. During last three days the positivity ratio in Karachi has reached from 2pc to 6pc. The NCOC was also told that vaccinated people are less affected by Omicron,” a statement issued by NCOC said.

“The NCOC also reviewed the district wise vaccination targets. All out efforts are being made by engaging the provinces to achieve the vaccination targets. The NCOC also directed the provinces to achieve their vaccination targets as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the disease,” the statement concluded.

The NCOC data showed that 708 infections and two deaths were reported in the past 24 hours and national positivity rate was 1.55pc. Moreover 642 patients were on critical care.

Earlier, more than 700 people were infected over two months ago on Oct 30, 2021 when 733 cases were reported.

Meanwhile, Dr Sultan warned in a tweet about the continuously increasing positivity rate and advised that people to get them vaccinated and strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures.

“Covid testing positivity rates for the last week. 28 Dec 0.69pc, 29 Dec 0.87pc, 30 Dec 0.95pc, 31 Dec 1.07pc, 2 Jan 1.3pc, 3 Jan 1.55pc. Unmistakable upward trend…1. Wear masks. 2. Get vaccinated,” he tweeted.

To ascertain prevalence of Omicron in the province, the Sindh government conducted 351 tests of which 175 detected Omicron infection which constitutes 50pc of the tests, beside Delta and other variants of coronavirus.

This emerged in a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah at CM House in Karachi. The meeting was attended by provincial Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, the CM’s Advisor on Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Soomro, acting Chief Secretary Qazi Shahid Pervez, Heath Secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Dr Bari of Indus Hospital and other officers concerned.

The meeting was told that out of the 175 patients of Omicron few had travel history, mostly from UK, Dubai, US, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Nairobi and Angola.

It was pointed out that during the last 30 days, from Dec 3, 2021 to Jan 2, 2022, the number of Covid-19 cases had started increasing in Sindh. On Dec 3, 2021, 261 new cases were detected which kept on showing an upward trend and finally reached 403 on January 2, 2022.

The chief minister said the situation was critical and urged the health department to start an extensive vaccination drive and increase the number of tests of the people across the province.

He urged the people of the province to adopt precautionary measures, otherwise his government would have to take strict measures.

The meeting was told that from Dec 4, 2021 to Jan 1, 2022, 51 patients had died, of them 40 or 78pc on ventilators, six or 12pc off ventilators, and five or 10pc at home.

The meeting was told that so far 29,579, 471 vaccines had been administered all over Sindh.

Fortunately, no death caused by Covid-19 was reported on Monday, the CM said in a statement. However, 339 new cases emerged when 10,632 tests were conducted, constituting 3.2pc detection rate. Till last Sunday the number of deaths was 7,673.

The CM said so far 7,169,055 tests had been conducted against which 481,949 cases were diagnosed, of them 97.1pc or 468,200 patients recovered, including 33 overnight.

He said currently 6,076 patients were under treatment, of them 5,880 in home isolation, 42 at isolation centers and 154 at hospitals. The condition of 148 patients was stated to be critical, including 16 using ventilators.

According to the chief minister, out of 339 new cases, 236 were detected in Karachi, including 110 in South district, 93 in East, 18 in Central, 10 in Korangi, three in Malir and two in West district.

He said Hyderabad district had 25 fresh cases, Shaheed Benazirabad 13, Dadu and Tharparkar 10 each, Badin nine, Jamshoro eight, Matiari seven, Shikarpur four, Ghotki, Umerkot and Sukkur three each, and Jacobabad, Sanghar, Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas two each.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2022

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