Pakistan records lowest coronavirus statistics since first wave

NIH data shows positivity rate plunging to 0.28% with 62 cases and one death after eight days: WHO experts say 20 countries still below 10% Covid jab rate: US State Department orders non-essential staff to leave Shanghai over Covid

By: News Desk
Published: 09:30 AM, 12 Apr, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: NEW YORK: Students exit the auditorium at Yung Wing School in New York City. Covid-19 cases have more than doubled between February and March 2022.–AFP
Stay tuned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

Pakistan on Tuesday reported its lowest coronavirus statistics since the first wave of Covid-19 hit the country in early 2020.

According to the figures released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Tuesday morning, the number of infections has nosedived to just 62 and there was also a death after a gap of eight days which was recorded in Punjab during the last 24 hours (Monday).

As per the latest NIH data, after adding the only fatality the death toll from the coronavirus crawled up to 30,362, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,526,728 after adding the fresh 62 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Monday), 21,437 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio eased to 0.28 percent. The number of patients in critical care was 269.

During the last 24 hours (Monday), as many as 81 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,486,960. As of Tuesday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 9,406.

As many as 576,380 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 505,435 in Punjab, 219,282 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 135,130 in Islamabad, 35,480 in Balochistan, 43,301 in Azad Kashmir and 11,720 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,559 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,097 in Sindh, 6,322 in KP, 1,023 in Islamabad, 792 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.


20 countries still below 10% Covid jab rate: WHO experts

Twenty mostly African countries have still not vaccinated even 10 percent of their population against Covid-19, the World Health Organization's vaccine advisers lamented Monday.

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) said the speed of the Covid jab rollout had been "unprecedented".

However, 20 countries -- down from 34 in January -- had still not managed a 10-percent immunisation rate, Kate O'Brien, the WHO's vaccines chief, told reporters.

"These are countries that are working really hard to advance their programmes. Supply is no longer the issue. The legacy of all the supply constraint from 2021 -- the effects of that (are) still being felt," she said.

SAGE said vaccination coverage among the groups most vulnerable to severe Covid-19 disease was not enough to give them the protection they needed.

Health worker coverage is at 65 percent overall.

"That's certainly a very, very strong position to be in, but we're really carrying the message forward that it needs to be 100 percent," said O'Brien.

Coverage in the over-60s is at 69 percent -- though the figure falls to 24 percent in some regions of the world.

- Omicron data gap -

So far, the WHO has authorised eight Covid-19 vaccines and versions thereof, giving them the green light with its emergency use listing (EUL) status.

SAGE said that available data on their effectiveness against the Omicron variant of Covid-19 generally showed waning immunity against infection but high and more sustained effectiveness against severe disease and death -- especially after booster doses.

However, it added: "Data remain very limited for some of the WHO EUL vaccines" in their performance against Omicron.

The WHO EUL-approved vaccines are those made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Bharat Biotech and Novavax.

SAGE had data on the first five of those, said O'Brien, but for some it had "a lot more evidence than others". 

Studies were only just starting to come out on the Sinovac jab, she said. "We don't have real-world evidence in the Omicron era for other products that are WHO EUL."

- 70 percent target -

The Covax facility, founded to ensure the poorest 92 countries in the world get access to Covid-19 jabs with the cost covered by donors, has so far shipped 1.42 billion vaccine doses to 145 territories, according to UNICEF, which handles the logistics.

The scheme has sufficient supply available for all those countries to achieve the WHO's 70-percent coverage target by June, said SAGE.

Covax can only use WHO EUL vaccines.

Cravioto said SAGE had reviewed the CanSino vaccine and would produce its usage recommendations for the jab once the WHO gave it the EUL green light, "hopefully in the next weeks".

It would be the third Chinese vaccine authorised by the WHO.

Cravioto described the EUL jabs as "wonderful products to finish the job", adding: "The best way to finish the pandemic is for all of us to be vaccinated."

US orders non-essential staff to leave Shanghai

The United States has ordered all non-essential employees at its Shanghai consulate to leave over concerns about their safety, an embassy spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday, as the Chinese city faces a spike in Covid cases and a harsh lockdown.

The US State Department "ordered the departure due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak" and US diplomats have raised "concerns about the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens with People's Republic of China officials," the spokesperson said in the statement.

China has stuck to a policy of "zero Covid", aiming to eliminate infections through rigid lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.

Shanghai has been placed under some of the most severe measures since the virus first emerged in Wuhan in 2019, with a strict lockdown leaving many struggling to get enough food and thousands sent to quarantine centres.

The megacity reported more than 23,000 new Covid infections on Tuesday, with most of its 25 million residents still under strict lockdown.

The US embassy said last week it would permit non-essential employees to leave its consulate in Shanghai due to the case surge, warning citizens in China they may face "arbitrary enforcement" of virus curbs. 

The State Department is now ordering employees to leave as "it is best for our employees and their families to be reduced in number and our operations to be scaled down as we deal with the changing circumstances on the ground," the spokesperson said in the statement.

With inputs from AFP.