Pakistan reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a jump of 45.5 per cent from a day earlier, and marking the first time in nearly four months that daily infections exceeded 3,000.
In the last 24 hours, 3,019 new cases were detected compared to 2,074 on Wednesday. The positivity rate also jumped to 6.12 per cent from 4.7pc a day earlier.
The country had earlier confirmed 3,012 cases on September 15.
Moreover, the number of active cases rose to 23,000 — up from 17,748 on Monday — of whom 651 were in critical care, according to the government's database for tracking the spread of the virus in the country.
The countrywide breakdown in the last 24 hours is as follows:
- Sindh: 1,733 cases
- Punjab: 919 cases, 1 death
- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 64 cases, 3 deaths
- Balochistan: 11 cases
- Islamabad: 284 cases
- Gilgit-Baltistan: 4 cases
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 4 cases, 1 death
The rise in cases is being driven by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus which has brought a fifth wave of the disease to the country.
According to a document available with Dawn, Karachi's positivity rate on Wednesday reached 20.22pc, Mirpur's 10pc, Lahore 7.15pc, Islamabad reported 4.46pc and Rawalpindi 4.06pc.
Earlier this week, Pakistan passed the milestone of administering at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to over 100 million people.
"Of these [100m people], nearly 75m are fully vaccinated, which is 33pc of total population and 49pc of eligible population. Work is not complete yet. Need to keep the momentum going," an NCOC statement had stated.
Surge not unexpected
A member of the Scientific Task Force on Covid-19, Dr Javed Akram, said the surge was not unexpected, as people were suffering from "pandemic fatigue" and had given the virus every chance to transmit and mutate.
He urged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as the 'Deltacron' variant, which includes qualities of both the Delta and Omicron variants of coronavirus, has been reported in Cyprus and it will sooner or later reach Pakistan.
"I suggest people wear masks and control comorbidities (more than one illness) such as sugar and blood pressure levels. They should not go out in extreme weather such as early morning and late night. They should ensure that their drivers, watchmen, cooks and maids are vaccinated because they can become carriers of the virus," Dr Akram had urged.
Centralised quarantine abolished
Meanwhile, the NCOC has abolished centralised quarantine immediately.
It said: "Centralised quarantine arrangements for Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) positive for inbound passengers have been abolished forthwith. Now, all the passengers detected as positive in RAT on arrival at airports/border terminals will self-isolate themselves for 10 days (home quarantine). All the inbound passengers who are currently quarantined at centralised locations be shifted accordingly."
The NCOC said that remaining protocols of inbound testing policy will remain in place in the light of the latest decision.
It has directed to convey to the respective provincial and district administrations and to devise a mechanism to ensure implementation of home quarantine of positive passengers for 10 days.