Pakistan on Sunday logged 650 Covid-19 cases, lower than the 818 infections recorded the previous day, official data showed.

The countrywide positivity ratio, at 3.88 per cent, was also down from 4.47pc a day prior. According to the NIH, 16,755 tests were conducted during the last 24 hours.

In addition, 138 patients were in critical care, up from 126 a day earlier.

Sharing the citywide breakdown, the NIH data showed Swabi has the highest Covid positivity ratio at 42.8pc, followed by Karachi's 21.3 per cent.

It is noteworthy that the number of tests carried out in Swabi were only seven, out of which three were positives. On the other hand, there were 2,030 tests carried out in Karachi, out of which 430 turned up positive.

Other cities' test positivity ratios remained in the single digits, with 7pc in Muzaffarabad; 3.7pc in Abbottabad; 3pc in Peshawar; 2.8pc in Quetta; 2.5pc in Islamabad; 2.3pc in Nowshera and 2.17pc in Lahore.

Earlier in a statement, federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel had said that the government was taking several measures to control the surge in cases.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has been holding meetings on a daily basis to overview the virus situation in the country, he had said. "But we want the public to adopt precautionary measures and follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) religiously."

NCOC issues new guidelines

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services earlier told Dawn that unfortunately, the pandemic had bounced back in the country. "Cases double every five days, the number of patients being hospitalised is increasing and deaths are also being reported. It is worrisome that detection beyond Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore still has no signs of improvement despite repeated push," he said.

The NCOC had on Thursday issued new guidelines suggesting unvaccinated people should not be allowed to enter government offices.

They suggested that Covid awareness programmes should be arranged in government offices and employees be also guided to protect their family members as well.

"They must also be guided to avoid overcrowded places. Mask wearing is mandatory. Social distancing must be part of the seating plan in offices and this must also be ensured during prayers. Hand sanitisers at all entrances and washrooms should be made available.

"The officer responsible must ensure strict adherence to all Covid-19 protocols issued by the NCOC like vaccination, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing and hand sanitisation. Vaccination status should be checked and handshakes avoided," the guidelines stated.

It has been advised that temperature checking should be ensured at entry points and people with Covid-related symptoms should not be allowed to enter office premises.

"Any person/staff with symptoms like fever, cough, sneezing and shortness of breath must be tested through Covid-19 PCR or Antigen testing. All staff coming back from leave must get negative PCR before joining. Vaccination/booster status must be ensured. Mask wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitisation must be adhered by all staff," the guidelines stated.

Health authorities have previously said that the new wave of cases in the country could partially be attributed to two sub-variants of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 — BA.4 and BA.5. This meant that the virus would continue to spread fast.

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