National Command and Operation Centre head Asad Umar on Sunday reminded the people of wearing a mask as it was the "best protection" against the novel coronavirus, amid fears of another Covid wave -- Omicron variant -- in the country.
In a tweet, the NCOC head said: "Clear evidence now of a beginning of another covid wave which has been expected for last few weeks. Genome sequencing shows a rising proportion of omicron cases particularly in Karachi. Remember: wearing a mask is your best protection."
Umar's statement comes as the country reported as many as 594 cases over the last 24 hours, according to the daily update shared by the NCOC. Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in the cases over the past few days, with major cities of the countries reporting Omicron cases. Such a development comes at the backdrop of the country's "achieved target" of vaccinating 70 million people in 2021.
The NCOC data further showed that 45,585 tests were conducted in a single day and the Covid positivity ratio stands at 1.30%. Moreover, eight people died because of the virus and 637 patients are in critical care.
Furthermore, Karachi's local government on Saturday imposed a 15-day micro-smart lockdown in Karachi’s District East after the emergence of at least 12 cases of Omicron variant in the area. The lockdown was imposed in Gulshan-e-Iqbal’s Block 7 area and other hotspots on the report of the district health officers, read a notification issued by the deputy commissioner’s office.
“In exercise of powers conferred under Section 3 of the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014 (as amended in 2020), I, Taha Saleem, Deputy Commissioner District Karachi East hereby impose smart lockdown and micro-smart lockdown, which shall be enforced in the streets and houses of specified area respectively as given below, for a definite period of two weeks only,” it added.
After the imposition of the smart lockdown, there would be a ban on all sorts of public gatherings in the area, the notification read, adding that the government would enforce the implementation of SOPs.
it is pertinent to mention that the National Institute of Health on December 27 reported 75 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant. In a message on Twitter, the NIH said that Karachi had the highest number of confirmed Omicron cases, 33, followed by Islamabad, 17, and Lahore 13. Meanwhile, cases were been reported in Balochistan's Kalat district. The report mentioned that only 12 of the confirmed patients had international travel history.
Pakistan reported its first suspected case of the Omicron variant on December 8. Following its gene-sequencing, the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi confirmed it as the new variant on December 13.
Moreover, the National Disaster Management Authority procured as many as 167 million doses of vaccine for over 100 million population of the country since July 2021. The federal government had entrusted the NDMA with the responsibility to procure Covid-19 vaccines on an emergency basis, according to a press release released on Friday. “Within [a] short span of six months [the] NDMA successfully managed to procure 167 million doses for over 100 million populations and delivered [it] to the health ministry,” it read.