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Sixth wave of COVID-19 may hit Pakistan, fear health experts

A new fast-spreading variant — BA.5 — had been reported in Pakistan, including Karachi, and now it is being locally transmitted, says Dr Saeed Khan

By Web Desk
June 22, 2022
A woman wearing mask pillion rides with a man amid several other motorcycles on a road. Photo: file
A woman wearing mask pillion rides with a man amid several other motorcycles on a road. Photo: file

KARACHI: In view of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, the health experts on Tuesday warned that the surge in new infections my turned into the sixth wave of the pandemic.

The medical experts urged the people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing to prevent themselves from the deadly virus. 

The people who currently contracted the virus are showing mild symptoms, the doctors said, adding that the situation could turn out of control if the people do not take preventive measures.

As per the statistics, with 340 positive cases, Karachi has become the most affected city in the province. The officials from the health department said that the port city recorded 10.69% positivity rate in the last seven days.

A total of 9,892 tests were conducted in the rest of Sindh out of which 34 came positive.

Speaking to, Dr Saeed Khan, a professor of molecular pathology heading the Sindh Public Health Lab at the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS), said a new fast-spreading variant — BA.5 — had been reported in Pakistan, including Karachi, and now it was being locally transmitted.

Replying to a question, he said that other sub-variants of Omicron are also being reported in Karachi but the new variant is more contagious.

It has been a cause of concern in other parts of the world, he said, adding that unvaccinated, the elderly and people with compromised immunity were particularly vulnerable.

If the people will not pay heed to medical advice and start implementing the COVID-related preventive measures seriously, the spike in COVID-19 cases might turn into the sixth wave of the pandemic, he warned.

Giving details about BA.5, he said they are genetically different, which help them transmit fast.

He underscored the need for a booster dose and an additional booster dose for those who had already received a booster shot.

COVID-19 cases

The deadly disease is rearing its head again in Pakistan  after nearly a five-month hiatus since the last wave of coronavirus hit the country.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 204 more people have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours after 13,300 tests were conducted taking the positivity ratio to 1.53%.

As per the official tally, daily coronavirus infections in Pakistan cross 200-mark for the first time since April 9.

The NIH stats showed that 66 patients infected with coronavirus are currently admitted to intensive-care units (ICU) in hospitals across Pakistan.

According to the government data, the country went through the fifth wave of COVID-19 in January 2022, with the highest number of cases — 7,963 — on January 27 and recorded 30 deaths.

Factors behind new spike

Dr Faisal Mahmood, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Aga Khan University, told that the spike is likely due to a combination of factors, including "the introduction of the new variant BA.4 and BA.5, which can cause reinfections, increased travel — especially to Saudi Arabia for Umrah and Turkey for vacations — as well as the fact that six months have passed since the last booster, and that people have stopped wearing masks.”

He stated that identifying the number of positive cases is difficult because many people do not go for COVID-19 tests if their symptoms are mild. And because people are not taking the PCR test and instead use home testing kits that cannot be recorded, the number of cases is far greater than the number of reported cases.

He stated that hospitalisation has increased, though not as much as it did during the Delta wave, but that some patients with severe symptoms have started to show up at hospitals, which is concerning.