KARACHI: Warning that hospitalisation of people infected with Covid-19 is likely to increase next week, especially in Karachi, former health director general Dr Rana Muhammad Safdar said on Sunday that positive cases have more than doubled over the previous week, which indicates rapid transmission.
Positivity of Covid-19 cases in Karachi jumped to 21.71 per cent after 206 people tested positive when 949 were screened over the past 24 hours, while the positivity in Hyderabad came out at 8.51 per cent after four people tested positive when 47 were screened.
Experts blame two sub-variants of the Omicron variant, namely BA.4 and BA.5, for the rise in Covid-19 cases in Pakistan, saying that they have escape mutations that are giving them an edge.
They say the sub-variants have also been infecting people who are already vaccinated or have already been infected with Covid-19, but no evidence is available to show if they are causing any severe disease among the vaccinated people.
Dr Safdar, who recently joined the US Centres for Disease Control & Prevention as lead strategic adviser in Pakistan, said that the rise in Covid-19 cases is more marked in Karachi and Islamabad (3.45 per cent positivity) due to better testing and reporting, but the risk is likely to be widespread.
According to him, the rise in the rate of hospitalisation and the number of ICU admissions may become evident from next week. However, he said, given the high vaccination rates, the disease load is unlikely to challenge our health system capacity.
He advised the health authorities to stay vigilant through good surveillance and testing, communicate about the rising risk, especially in urban settings, advocate the wearing of masks indoors in the cities reporting cases that constitute over five per cent positivity, and stress on vaccination, with emphasis on booster shots. The National Institute of Health says 85 per cent of the locals are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, keeping in view the growing incidence of Covid-19 in Karachi and the rest of the country, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) advises people to always wear masks when engaged with any other person. They stress on wearing masks properly.
Emphasising the need for mandatory and repeated hand washing, the PMA advisory states people should wash their hands with soap or sanitise them at regular intervals, while they should try their best to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with their hands.
The advisory also stresses on observing social distance, saying that people should keep a distance of six feet (two arms) between one another, and avoid large gatherings; similarly, people should not shake hands or hug one other.
“If you’re unvaccinated, immediately get vaccinated, and get a booster dose six months after your second dose. Avoid sneezing and coughing openly. Use your arm, rather than hands, to cover your cough and sneeze. Use tissue papers to clean your nose and dispose them of properly,” reads the advisory.
The PMA says that people should not share their glass, plate, cup, towel, phone, pen, etc. with anyone. “Remember, when you feel difficulty in breathing while you are in isolation or in quarantine, please contact the hospital immediately.”
The country reported 406 fresh cases of coronavirus in a single day, National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) data showed Sunday morning. The new infections were detected after diagnostic tests on 14,437 samples. This took Pakistan's Covid-19 positivity to 2.81%. Moreover, two people suffering from coronavirus died in a day.
As per the NIH stats, 94 other patients are undergoing treatment in intensive-care units countrywide. As per NIH, 85% of Pakistan's population has been fully vaccinated.
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