KARACHI: The coronavirus situation gets worrisome with each passing day as the government reported more than 400 positive cases on Wednesday in the city that had 339 new infections a day earlier.
The latest development also included detection of 23 cases of the Omicron variant in a single day at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS). The majority of affected individuals are from district East.
“The surge in coronavirus cases is inevitable and a stage will soon come when 80 to 90 per cent of the cases will constitute cases of the Omicron variant,” said Dr Saeed Khan, a professor of molecular pathology heading the Sindh Public Health Lab at the university.
He said that Omicron cases in the city had reached 200.
Citing a recent government initiative that showed that the Omicron variant was detected in 50pc cases of new Covid-19 infections, Dr Khan said the actual number of population affected by the new variant of concern would be much higher.
23 cases of Omicron variant in single day
“Experts are concerned about this variant because it spreads fast and has shown resistance towards Covid-19 vaccines,” he said, adding that vaccines helped reduce disease’s severity but couldn’t stop its transmission.
Dr Khan was of the opinion that people need to get used to the phenomenon of having new Covid-19 variants and must get inoculated.
“It’s pretty normal for a virus to have different variants. There is concern over coronavirus because the disease developed into a pandemic. A day earlier, France has reported a new heavily mutated IHU variant, which is stated to be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines. It will take some time to reach this part of the world.”
Double-layered face mask
According to experts, the way the variant has caused a spike in new infections following New Year and Christmas celebrations was very much expected and that the relaxed compliance to standard operating procedures might not be sufficient for protection against the new variant.
“The Omicron spread three to 10 times faster than other known coronavirus variants. Hence, we believe that the face mask being used for protection should be double-layered and properly fit to the face. Some masks, such as the N95, KN95, provide good protection against the new variant, though they are a bit costly,” suggested Dr Rafiq Khanani, a senior infectious diseases expert.
Asked how the Omicron variant is different in manifestation from the delta variant, Dr Khanani explained that patients were not complaining of loss of taste or smell.
“Their fever is mild to moderate. Also, their lung tissues are pretty safe and the variant is largely involving the airways. Hence, there is less demand/requirement for oxygen supplies for the patient,” he said.
He seconded Dr Saeed Khan’s opinion that vaccines provided relatively less protection against Omicron variant.
“It’s better to have a booster from the same vaccine earlier administered. All Chinese vaccines are good enough and I don’t think Pfizer vaccine should be given a preference at the time of choosing a booster jab,” Dr Khanani said.
The vulnerable groups for severe disease, experts say, are the elderly, children, patients with suppressed immunity levels and those with underlying health complications.
One dies, 556 new cases overnight
According to a statement of the Sindh chief minister, another patient died of Covid-19, increasing the death toll to 7,676 whereas 556 new cases emerged in the last 24 hours.
A day earlier, the city had reported 339 cases out of a total of 464 new Covid-19 cases.
Of the 556 new cases, 417 have been detected in Karachi division — 163 from district East, 157 South, 46 from Central, 28 from Korangi, 17 from West and six from district Malir.
Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2022