Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination (NHS) said on Tuesday that a fifth wave of COVID-19 may hit Pakistan by the mid of February 2022, especially after the detection of the Omicron variant. Daily detection of cases may rise to as many as 3000 per day, especially in the main cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, health officials warned .
According to a report by The News, transmission of Omicron variant has started in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. A NHS official said, “we fear a rise in COVID-19 cases all over the country in the coming two weeks. Pakistan may experience the fifth wave of COVID-19 in the middle of February 2022 with the number of daily cases rising to 3,000 to 4,000.”
In a public service message on Twitter, The National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed that a total of 75 Omicron cases have been reported in Pakistan, 33 in Karachi, 17 in Islamabad and 13 in Lahore.
The NHS claimed that most of the patients infected with the Omicron variant were ‘asymptomatic.’ “There are seven or eight labs in entire Pakistan with the capacity to detect the mutations in the virus that indicate that it is the Omicron variant. Once these labs have the suspected cases, they refer them to NIH or AKUH Karachi for genome sequencing for confirmation. Probably, that’s why we are not seeing a large number of cases of this variant of concern but it is rapidly replacing the Delta variant in Pakistan,” said the NHS official as reported by The News.
The official also added that vaccines could prevent severe illness caused by the Omicron variant. Should 50% of the Pakistani population be vaccinated, the Omicron variant could also provide herd immunity in a short period of time.