Faisal hints at ban on public transport during Eid holidays

-65 more cases of Delta variant detected in Karachi
-Asad says COVID patients’ inflow in hospitals increasing rapidly

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Faisal Sultan on Thursday hinted at ban on public transport during Eid-ul-Adha holidays.
Faisal Sultan has said that more restrictions will be imposed in most affected areas of the country. Cases of coronavirus are relatively low compared to other provinces, he added.
The SAPM further said that vaccinated people will be allowed to visit tourist spots; however, warned that coronavirus related SOPs are being violated in Azad Kashmir election rallies.
Separately, Mr. Faislal on Thursday explained that there was no need for “double locking” (vaccination with four doses from two different brands), adding the World Health Organisation had also cautioned against the practice. During an interview with a private TV channel Dr Sultan said that countries should ensure complete vaccination (two doses) of their population from a single vaccine to ensure maximum coverage.
“If you have placed a lock on a door, and you overprotect it with another lock, then it’s just going to be a marginal gain,” he said, adding that from public health perspective there was no need for “double locking”.
He underlined that vaccines ensure maximum protection from Covid infection, saying “the protection rate doesn’t get to zero, but chances for contracting a virus drop considerably.”
Dr Sultan emphasised that vaccines were the most important weapon against the coronavirus disease. He further said that the government has data on vaccine efficacy and failure rate, which will be made public in a day or two. “But let me tell you the results of the vaccine are really good,” he stressed. In response to a question about fears of an uptick in Covid cases on Eidul Azha, he said that the upcoming festival should be celebrated in a “very limited and closed environment.”
Dr Sultan said the data available with the government clearly indicated that the fourth wave of Covid-19 was around the corner. “The overall positivity ratio has increase to five per cent, while in Karachi it had almost reached 19pc,” he said.
Earlier, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Thursday urged people to get vaccinated against coronavirus and follow government issued guidelines against the disease. Asad Umar, in a tweet, warned that hospitalization of coronavirus patients as well as patients in critical care are seeing a sharp rise in the country. The federal minister further said that the Indian variant of coronavirus has caused devastation in countries in the region. The NCOC head asked people to follow SOPs, get vaccinated and do not risk their and others lives.
Meanwhile, Another 65 cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus have been detected in Karachi, taking the total to 100, after 35 cases were confirmed earlier.
The National Institute of Virology (NIV) at the University of Karachi, which tested 2,062 samples sent by the Sindh Health Department on July 12 and 13, said in a statement on Thursday that 163 results came back positive. Of these, genotyping of “randomly selected 94 positive samples of Covid-19 revealed 65 cases of Delta variant, which makes 69 per cent of total samples tested,” it said.
Director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at KU, Professor Dr Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary, while sharing the results, said that besides the Delta variant, two cases of the Beta (South African) variant, two cases of a wild-type variant and 25 cases of unidentified variants were also confirmed. “The 25 cases may be Delta Plus variant or a new variant,” the statement quoted Choudhary as saying. “The presence of Sars-CoV-2 Delta variant has already been confirmed in the Sindh province and its local transmission is evident from the recently identified cluster,” he added.
The statement noted that 15pc of samples collected between June 25 and July 9 had turned out to be Delta variant cases in a previous genotyping analysis. “Its proportion in positive cases is rapidly increasing,” it observed. “Researchers of the National Institute of Virology are constantly monitoring the spread of this variant in the metropolis, which is really a matter of concern,” the statement added.
Earlier this week, the Sindh Health Department confirmed that 35 Delta variant cases were reported in Karachi. It said “severe symptoms” of the virus had been observed in people who were confirmed to be suffering from the Delta variant.
On Wednesday, the Sindh government reimposed coronavirus restrictions in the province, closing down schools and indoor dining, as Karachi’s positivity rate was recorded as 17.11pc. Over the last 24 hours, Pakistan recorded 2,545 cases, a massive 28.5 per cent increase over the 1,980 cases reported a day ago. This is the first time the country has reported more than 2,500 infections since May 29, when 2,697 cases were reported. Of the new cases, 1,420, or 55.7pc were reported in Sindh.