The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in Pakistan reported that the national positivity rate of Covid-19 has exceeded three per cent in the past 24 hours, with around 168 new cases, the highest number seen since September 2022. The positivity rate in two major cities, Karachi and Islamabad, has surpassed 5 and 6 per cent, respectively. While officials have acknowledged the rise in cases, they have stated that the trend is not a cause for concern.
Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, a member of the NCOC, stated that the increase in cases is due to recent mutations in the virus. He also said that people should not panic as the mortality rate of the new strain is very low. According to the NCOC data, the national positivity rate was 3.02%, while rates in Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi were 6.11%, 5.51%, 3.99%, and 2.61%, respectively. Additionally, one death has been reported in the past 24 hours.
Dr Khan, who is also Vice Chancellor of the Health Services Academy, said that cases will continue to increase and decrease as transmissibility fluctuates with the arrival of new strains of the virus. He added that people up to middle age, with good health, should not worry about the virus because even if they are infected, they will not face major complications and symptoms. However, those over 65 years of age and those suffering from blood pressure, diabetes, kidney-related issues, and cancer should be careful.
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The NCOC member said that even during the last year, cases increased before summer, but the situation remained under control. Although the number of cases has increased, the number of deaths is minimal. He added that the virus belongs to a family of influenza so it remains less active in summer. Nonetheless, he advised caution, saying that the NCOC has already advised people to wear masks in health facilities and other public places. The fresh guidelines were issued by the NCOC for up to April 30, keeping in view the Covid-19 trend in the country.
Dr Khan advised people to avoid crowded places because currently, the virus is only spreading from human to human, contrary to the situation in 2020 when it was also spreading through utensils, dresses, currency notes, etc. Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Abdul Qadir Patel also said that the virus situation was under control and asked people to avoid paying heed to rumours. The government has strengthened the role of Border and Health Services to deal with any sub-variant of Covid-19, and surveillance systems have been set up at all entry points, and all arriving passengers are being subjected to rapid tests and screening at all airports.