The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be staging a comeback in Pakistan, with the national positivity ratio climbing to 2.14 percent on Thursday with 268 new confirmed cases, the highest single-day rise since April 2. The country’s positivity ratio, similarly, has not crossed 2 percent since March 5.
According to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), Karachi is bearing the brunt of the current wave, with a positivity ratio of 21.23 percent. It said that 650 samples had been tested in the Sindh capital in the past 24 hours, recording 138 positive results. For contrast, Karachi had reported 53 new cases just a week earlier.
The second highest number of COVID cases reported in the past 24 hours was from Abbottabad, where the positivity ratio currently stands at 8.7 percent. Federal capital Islamabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad, and Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir have also all reported positivity rates of over 2 percent.
Data provided by the NCOC shows that there are currently 75 COVID patients requiring critical care nationwide, with nine of them reported in the past 24 hours alone. It said that one person had died of the virus, leaving 30,385 total casualties.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel chaired a meeting of the NCOC in which the participants were informed that 85 percent of the eligible population had been fully vaccinated, while 93 percent were partially vaccinated. It said that 100 percent of the eligible population in Sindh had been fully vaccinated.
According to a press release, the meeting noted the recent surge in cases and advised all provinces and regions to administer booster doses on priority to improve protection against COVID transmission. “In view of the global pandemic situation, the Central Health Establishment (CHE) should strictly monitor the health status of incoming passengers at points of entry,” Patel was quoted as saying. “The CHE will be strengthened to enhance the functionality,” he added.
Patel stressed on the need to adopt timely precautions, including social distancing and mask compliance, to avoid further spread of the virus, especially in the lead up to Eidul Azha.
In recent days, medical experts have warned that while the overall numbers remain low, a new variant of COVID-19—BA.5—is spreading rapidly globally and has already arrived in Pakistan. If this variant is not curtailed at this stage, they have stressed, the country could face a sixth wave of the coronavirus.