PM warns of looming fourth COVID wave

-Fears the next wave to loom over Pakistan
-Terms Indian-origin variant the biggest concern
-Urges nation to wear masks, get vaccinated
-Advises caution ahead of possible next wave
-Stresses on adherence to the govt’s mandated SOPs on Eid
-National COVID tally records rise in active cases, positivity ratio

By Uzma Zafar

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday warned of a looming fourth wave of Covid-19 in the country, terming the Delta variant, which is believed to have originated in India, “the biggest concern”.
Pakistan has witnessed a sudden rise in daily cases in recent days.
According to the government’s Covid-19 portal, the number of daily Covid-19 cases dropped from four digits to three digits on June 25. The daily cases being reported remained close to the 900 mark till June 27 and further fell to 735 on June 28. Then the number of cases gradually started increasing and doubled in just one week. The positivity rate, which stood at less than 2 per cent in June, crossed 3pc after a gap of 20 days.
Days earlier, NCOC had also confirmed presence of different variants of coronavirus, including the Delta (Indian), Beta (South African) and Alpha (UK) variants, in Pakistan and detection of their cases in May and June.
In a video message addressed to the nation, the premier referred to countries including Afghanistan and Indonesia hit by the Delta variant and expressed concern over the upward trajectory of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan, just days after they were on the decline.
“We fear the Indian variant could strike Pakistan and as a precautionary measure, we need to adhere to the SOPs,” he warned. While thanking people for abiding by the SOPs on his previous appeals, he urged the masses to continue their cooperation with the administration and compulsorily wear masks at all places, especially “restaurants, wedding gatherings, and indoor spaces, because such spots are extreme contributors to spread of the virus.”
The premier said he knew people had become tired of following the SOPs for over a year, but said: “We will further put your test stamina to test for your own safety.”
He said it was not a herculean task to wear a mask. Talking about the downsides of a lockdown on the country, the prime minister said: “When you impose a lockdown, the most affected segment is the poor, and for the sake of our people, our economy, and our elders, I urge everyone to wear masks,” he appealed.
He said that Bangladesh and Indonesia had imposed strict lockdowns, adding that we need to take measures to prevent that situation from clutching us. He also said the government had to ensure that sacrificial animals on Eidul Azha should be slaughtered at sites outside cities to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Take the jab: The premier also urged the masses to get themselves vaccinated. “Unfortunately we do not produce vaccines, so we may get a bit late in vaccinating our entire population against the coronavirus,” he added. He urged people, especially those in urban areas, to take the jabs. “If we survive the fourth wave, we will be able to save our country,” he concluded.
COVID Cases, Deaths: The national tally on Thursday of total active COVID-19 cases was recorded 34,531 with 1,683 more people testing positive for the deadly virus and 1,084 people recovering from the disease during last 24 hours.
Twenty-four corona patients have died during past 24 hours, 23 of whom were under treatment in the hospitals and one of them perished in their respective homes or quarantine facilities, according to the latest update issued by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC). Most of the deaths occurred in Sindh and followed by Punjab. Out of the total 24 deaths occurred, 15 of them died were under treatment on ventilators. There were 1,980 COVID-19 infected patients under treatment in critical condition, 39 were admitted in various COVID-19 dedicated healthcare facilities of the country during past 24 hours.
National COVID-19 positivity ratio during past 24 hours was recorded 3.33%. The COVID-19 positivity ratio is the percentage of actual positive cases appearing in every 100 tests performed to identify infected individuals. The maximum ventilators were occupied in four major cities including Islamabad 12%, Lahore 15%, Peshawar 14% and Multan 14%. The maximum Oxygen beds (alternate oxygen providing facility other than ventilator administered as per medical requirement of COVID patient) was also occupied in four major cities of Gilgit 82 %, Multan 18 %, Karachi 29 % and Rawalpindi 20 %.
Around 201 ventilators were occupied elsewhere in the country while no COVID affected person was on ventilator in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Balochistan, and Gilgit Baltistan (GB). Some 50,531 tests were conducted across the country on Wednesday, including 17,959 in Sindh, 17,180 in Punjab, 10,011 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 2,859 in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), 714 in Balochistan, 522 in GB, and 1,286 in AJK.
Around 910,609 people have recovered from the disease so far across Pakistan making it a significant count with over 90 percent recovery ratio of the affected patients.
Since the pandemic broke out, a total of 967,633 cases were detected that also included the perished, recovered and under treatment COVID-19 patients so far, including AJK 20,728, Balochistan 27,502, GB 6,639, ICT 83,259, KP 138,855, Punjab 347,347 and Sindh 343,303.
About 22,493 deaths were recorded in country since the eruption of the contagion. Around 5,552 people perished in Sindh, 16 of them died in hospitals. Some 10,798 people died in Punjab with six deaths occurred in the hospitals and one out of the hospitals in the past 24 hours. As many as 4,346 people expired in KP, 781 individuals died in ICT, 315 people died in Balochistan, 111 infected people perished in GB and 590 people in AJK succumbed to the deadly virus, one out of the hospital. A total of 14,911,743 corona tests have been conducted so far, while 639 hospitals are equipped with COVID facilities across the country. Some 2,235 corona patients were admitted to the hospitals.