Daily Covid tests up, infections down in Pakistan

NIH data shows infectivity rate shedding more percentage: Low immunity and overwhelmed hospitals fuel Covid-19 deaths in ageing Japan

By: News Desk
Published: 10:21 AM, 3 Feb, 2023
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: Representational image.
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The number of everyday Covid-19 tests has risen as Pakistan reported dozen more coronavirus infections with no fatality during the last 24 hours (Thursday), showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Friday morning, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

According to the NIH data, the death toll in the country remained the same at 30,640 whereas the number of total infections now rose to 1,576,343 after adding the fresh 12 cases. 

During the last 24 hours (Thursday), 4,812 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.25 percent. The number of patients in critical care stood at nine.


Low immunity, overwhelmed hospitals fuel Covid-19 deaths in Japan

Low immunity against Covid-19 and a growing population of frail elderly is driving a surge in coronavirus deaths in Japan which had, for a long time, upheld some of the strictest pandemic restrictions.

Japan once boasted one of the lowest Covid-19 mortality rates, but the figure has been trending upwards since the end of 2022.

It hit an all-time high on 20 January this year, surpassing the UK, US and South Korea, according to Harvard University's Covid database, Our World in Data.

Japan was largely closed to foreign visitors from 2020 till mid-June last year. It opened its borders cautiously - at first, travellers had to be part of a package tour, buy medical insurance, and be masked in all public places.

Some schoolchildren had meals in silence for over two years as schools slapped bans on lunchtime conversations.

As restrictions are eased, however, the population's low Covid-19 immunity may be causing infections to spike, local health experts told the BBC.

Most of the latest Covid-19 fatalities are elderly people with underlying medical conditions, experts said. This contrasts with the initial spate of deaths that were due to pneumonia and were often treated in intensive care.

"It is also difficult to prevent these deaths by treatment," says Hitoshi Oshitani, one of Japan's leading virologists, adding that Covid was only the trigger.

"Due to the emergence of immune-escaping variants and sub-variants and the waning of immunity, it is getting more difficult to prevent infections," he says.

"Immune escape" is when the human host's immune system becomes incapable of responding against an infectious agent. New versions of the Omicron variant are known to be masters of immune evasion.

Before the Omicron variant struck, Covid-19 deaths mostly occurred in cities like Tokyo and Osaka, but there are now cases across the country, said Dr Oshitani, who was once regional adviser to the WHO on communicable disease surveillance and response.

"In smaller prefectures and rural areas, the proportion of the elderly population is even higher than the national average. This changing geographic pattern may also contribute to the increasing trend of deaths," he said.

Japan is the oldest society in the world by various measures, and its share of elderly people has been increasing every year since 1950.

Elderly people who are getting infected in nursing homes or in community clusters are not receiving prompt treatment, says epidemiologist Kenji Shibuya, a director at the Foundation for Tokyo Policy Research.

Faster treatment can help, he says, but because of Japan's classification of Covid as a Class 2 or "very dangerous" illness, only government-designated hospitals can treat the infected. And they have been overwhelmed by the surging caseload.

Dr Shibuya has called for Covid to be downgraded and treated as a form of influenza, allowing all clinics and hospitals to treat patients who have the virus.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced earlier this month that the classification would be lowered, but only on 8 May. Experts, including Japan's top coronavirus adviser Shigeru Omi, have been calling for this since last year.

Categories : Topics, Health