Despite Covid-induced restrictions imposed across the country in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly Omicron variant, as many as 7,195 cases were reported over the last 24 hours across Pakistan, according to the National Command and Operation Centre on Monday.
According to NCOC’s tweet, as many as 57,401 tests were conducted in a single day and the Covid positivity ratio stood at 12.53%. Moreover, eight deaths were reported and 1,113 patients were on critical care.
The recent uptick in coronavirus cases is attributed to the outbreak of the Omicron variant in the country. The NCOC, which serves as the nerve centre of the government synchronised anti-Covid strategy, on November 29 warned that “it was inevitable that the Omicron variant will come to Pakistan. The statement had come after the discovery of the new variant in South Africa.
Last week, the NCOC announced new restrictions to contain the virus. It decided to completely ban indoor events in cities or districts where the infection rate is above 10% with effect from January 24, according to a notification which also contained non-pharmaceutical interventions (NIPs) list for all sectors of the country.
As told by NCOC head Asad Umar in his presser on January 11, Karachi and Lahore account for around 60 per cent of the Omicron cases, stressing the need for vaccination and following SOPs. Such a trend was still continuing as Karachi Covid positivity ratio stood at over 40%, as per official figures
Moreover, the micro smart lockdown was imposed in three subdivisions of South District in Karachi on Monday, Aaj News reported. According to a notification issued by the South District deputy commissioner, the new restrictions have been imposed in some areas of Garden, Saddar, and Civil Lines.
“Micro lockdown has been imposed in areas of Eid Gah Street number 8-11, Defence Sunset Street Phase II, Naval Heights, Rumi Street Clifton, Clifton Tower, Makkah Masjid Muhammadia, Iqbal Lane L Block, Boat Basin, Khayaban-e-Shaheen, and in one house at Khayaban-e-Badr,” it read.
During the lockdown, which will stay from January 22 to February 5, the government has advised people to “strictly” follow SOPs.
In addition to this, the staff at the Expo Vaccination Centre in Karachi has stopped the work after complaining of not getting salaries. Aaj News reported that the vaccinator and data operator staff members have refused to work due to non-payment of salaries, prompting the people to leave the centre without getting inoculated with Covid jabs.
According to protestors, they have not been paid for the “last nine months” despite the government’s assurances.
Pakistan reduces quarantine period to five days
Pakistan has decided to reduce the quarantine period for coronavirus patients from nine days to five days in case of no fever for 24 hours without medication.
Initially, the quarantine period in Pakistan was 14 days which was later reduced to nine days last year.
As per the NCOC, the new guidelines is to "provide Covid-19 patients, their attendants and health care providers with the latest information regarding home isolation (and discharge) when they or more of the household members get infected with the virus".
The new guidelines suggest that people with coronavirus should isolate for five days if they are ‘asymptomatic’ or their ‘symptoms are resolving’ (without fever for 24 hours).
"For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second vaccine dose and have not yet received their booster dose, quarantine after exposure for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days."
"If a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure."
The forum further said that those who have received their booster shot but have tested positive do not need to quarantine but "should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure".
"For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to Covid-19,” NCOC said.