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SAPM Dr Faisal Sultan urges people not to take Omicron 'lightly'

05 Jan, 2022
The SAPM advised people to wear masks, avoid gatherings and get vaccinated. File photo
The SAPM advised people to wear masks, avoid gatherings and get vaccinated. File photo

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Tuesday urged people not to take Covid's rapidly spreading variant Omicron 'lightly' warning that hospitalization could increase within next one or two weeks, reported The News.

The SAPM advised people to wear masks, avoid gatherings and get vaccinated.

In response to a question on low number of hospitalization of people infected with the coronavirus in Karachi despite increase in number of cases in the provincial capital, he said: "It’s still a bit early to draw conclusions since it takes 1-2 weeks for hospitalizations to go up. Also, let us see how the virus behaves regarding virulence."

With 8.91 per cent Covid positivity rate in Karachi, the total number of Omicron cases jumped to 101 on Tuesday. However, hospitalizations remained negligible and there were hardly any patients under treatment at major public and private health facilities in the city.

According to the report, not a single patient of Covid was admitted in Liaquat National Hospital on Monday for the first time in the last 20 months, showing that Omicron variant was not as virulent as was being perceived.

Meanwhile, in other major hospitals, including Ziauddin Hospitals, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and Dow University Ojha campus, hospitalization of Covid patients also remained low.

The only dedicated hospital for Covid patients in Karachi, Infectious Diseases Hospital and Research Center, also witnessed no increase in number of patients for quite some time, while most of their beds were vacant.

“At the moment, we are receiving one or two patients with Covid on daily basis but so far we have not found anybody infected with Omicron variant of the Covid”, Dr Abdul Wahid Rajput, Medical Superintendent of the Infectious Diseases Hospital, was quoted in the report.

However, Dr Sultan said he expected an increase in hospitalization following spread of the Omicron variant. "There will be some increase in hospitalization. How much, it depends on the degree of spread and infection. International evidence suggests it spreads fast; how much serious sickness it causes will be evident in a week or two (for us)”, he said.

According to the National Command and Operation Centre data, 898 new cases of Covid were reported across the country in the last 24 hours.

The positivity rate was 1.80% on Tuesday with five deaths recorded from the coronavirus.

Currently, 652 patients of Covid are on critical care across the country.