Daily Covid tests in Pakistan more than doubled

NIH data shows infectivity rate dropping to 0.34%: Study finds no new variants in weeks after China ended zero-Covid

By: News Desk
Published: 10:04 AM, 8 Feb, 2023
Daily Covid tests in Pakistan more than doubled
Caption: Passengers with and without face mask stand in the Madrid’s subway as Spanish government said people will no longer have to wear face masks on public transport, ending one of the country's last remaining rules against the Covid-19 coronavirus.–AFP
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The number of everyday Covid-19 tests in Pakistan has more than doubled in one day as the country registered 16 more coronavirus infections with no fatality during the last 24 hours (Tuesday), showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Wenessday 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 1,576,426 after adding the fresh 16 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Tuesday), 4,700 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan as compared to previous day’s 2,023 whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.34 percent. The number of patients in critical care stood at 10.

No new variants in weeks in China

No new variants of Covid-19 emerged in Beijing in the weeks after China ended its zero-Covid policy late last year, a new study said on Wednesday.

China saw an explosion of infections after starting to lift its strict pandemic measures from early December, sparking fears the world's most populous country could become a fertile breeding ground for new, more transmissible or severe strains.

More than a dozen countries promptly imposed fresh restrictions on travellers from China, also citing a lack of transparency about the scale of the outbreak, sparking Beijing's ire.

But the new study by Chinese researchers, which analysed 413 samples from Beijing sequenced between November 14 and December 20, said "there is no evidence that novel variants emerged" during that time.

Instead, more than 90 percent of the cases were BF.7 and BA5.2, Omicron subvariants which were already present in China and have been overtaken by more transmissible subvariants in Western nations.

BF.7 accounted for three quarters of the samples, while more than 15 percent were BA5.2, according to the study published in The Lancet journal.

"Our analysis suggests two known Omicron sub-variants -- rather than any new variants -- have chiefly been responsible for the current surge in Beijing, and likely China as a whole," lead study author George Gao, a virologist at the Institute of Microbiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a statement.

Wolfgang Preiser and Tongai Maponga, virologists at South Africa's Stellenbosch University not involved in the research, cautioned that it only covered a few weeks after China lifted its zero-Covid measures.

"If new lineages were to emerge in the course of the surge, the study was probably too early to find them," they said in a Lancet comment piece.

China has also dramatically cut back on its testing, potentially affecting the results, which also only cover Beijing and not the whole nation, they added.

However the virologists welcomed the "much-needed data from China".

"Although the fairly mild travel-related measures imposed by some countries for travellers from China once again might be viewed as punitive, one can but hope that this paper heralds more openness and prompt exchange of data going forward," they said.

With inputs from AFP.

Categories : Topics, Health