Low corona tests spur positivity ratio, but cuts down infections in Pakistan

NIH data shows 255 everyday cases: Karachi’s infectivity ratio soars to 39.46%: US working on plan to allow second Covid-19 boosters for all adults

By: News Desk
Published: 10:11 AM, 12 Jul, 2022
Low corona tests spur positivity ratio, but cuts down infections in Pakistan
Caption: A Chinese health worker takes a swab sample from a woman to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus in the Jing'an district of Shanghai.–AFP
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The drastic lowering of number of daily coronavirus tests has sent the positivity ratio skyrocketing and everyday cases crashing as Pakistan reported just 255 infections and one death during the last 24 hours (Monday), showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Tuesday morning.

As per the NIH data, the death toll in Pakistan has now increased to 30,424 after registering the only fatality whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,543,555 after adding the fresh 255 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Monday), 4,674 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio shot up to 5.46 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 141.

The positivity ratio in Karachi has gone through the roof as it was recorded at 39.46 percent, followed by 7.69 percent in Islamabad. 5.17 percent in Hyderabad, 4.65 percent in Lahore amd 3.93 percent in Peshawar.

During the last 24 hours (Monday), another 97 patients recovered from the Covid-19 in Pakistan and the number of total recoveries now stood at 1,502,797. As of Tuesday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 10,284.

As many as 588,075 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 509,628 in Punjab, 220,325 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 136,657 in Islamabad, 35,614 in Balochistan, 43,436 in Azad Kashmir and 11,770 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,580 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,130 in Sindh, 6,325 in KP, 1,027 in Islamabad, 793 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.


US officials working on plan to allow second Covid-19 boosters for all adults

US health officials are urgently working on a plan to allow second Covid-19 boosters for all adults, a senior White House official confirmed to CNN. The US Food and Drug Administration is making it a high priority, the official said.

Second boosters have been authorized for adults 50 and older, as well as some people with weakened immune systems, since late March. But younger adults are eligible for only one booster shot, which was authorized in November. Federal agencies are looking to move quickly on authorizing a second booster for all adults, the source said.

Some experts are concerned that younger adults' immunity may be waning as Covid-19 cases rise with the dominance of the BA.5 Omicron subvariant. Reinfections are more likely with BA.5 than with any previous variants because of immune escape features, Dr Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research, said on CNNI Monday.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants constitute more than 70% of new infections in the country. But while these subvariants may partially escape the immunity produced by the vaccine and by prior infection, vaccination still likely protects against severe illness.

It remains unclear how many American adults would get a second booster dose if one is authorized. As of Thursday, about half of Americans 18 and up who were eligible for a first booster had gotten it, according to the CDC. Just over a quarter of eligible adults 50 and over have gotten a second booster.

A study published in May found that a fourth dose of Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech's mRNA Covid-19 vaccine provides a "substantial" boost to immunity at similar or even better levels than a third dose.

The study, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet and included participants whose median age was 70.1 years, also showed that some people who had higher levels of antibodies before the fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine had only "limited" boosting.

Those with a history of Covid-19 infection had a similarly limited response. The authors say this suggests that there may be a ceiling or maximum response that can come with a fourth vaccine dose.

Two earlier studies out of Israel, conducted among participants age 60 or older, showed that hospitalization and death rates from Covid-19 could be reduced with a fourth vaccine dose given at least four months after the third dose. The reduction in hospitalizations and death persisted over time with this fourth shot.

Macau closes casinos, businesses as Covid outbreak worsens

Macau on Saturday announced a weeklong shutdown of its casinos and non-essential businesses as the Chinese gambling hub confronted its worst coronavirus outbreak yet.

Macau will enter "static management" for a week starting July 11 and residents must stay home, with rulebreakers liable to be jailed for up to two years, top city official Andre Cheong said at a press conference.

Some public services and businesses such as supermarkets and pharmacies can stay open, but casinos -- which in normal times accounted for around 80 percent of government revenue -- will need to close their doors.

Macau on Saturday reported 71 new Covid cases, bringing the total of infections to 1,374 since the latest wave began on June 18, low by global standards but the city follows mainland China's strict zero-Covid policy.

Health officials said imposing "static management" coupled with intensive PCR testing in the outbreak's third week would help prevent a resurgence.

Last month Macau closed most of its businesses, ranging from bars to cinemas, as it adheres to China's zero-Covid strategy which seeks to stamp out the virus through lockdowns, strict border controls and mass testing.

Despite stringent health policies, the city's casinos had managed to stay open after an initial 15-day shutdown around the start of the pandemic.

But last week authorities locked down one of Macau's most famous casinos, the Grand Lisboa, and trapped more than 500 people inside after finding 13 infections linked to the venue.

The 600,000 residents of the former Portuguese colony have been told to minimise unnecessary activity outside the home and have undergone multiple rounds of citywide Covid testing.

Macau hosts a casino industry bigger than that of Las Vegas, accounting for more than half the city's gross domestic product and employing nearly one-fifth of the population.

The only city in China where casino gambling is permitted, Macau has seen its vital tourism revenues wiped out by some of the world's harshest measures to tackle the virus -- including tough border controls, weeks-long quarantines and targeted lockdowns.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign has also seen increased scrutiny of big-spending gamblers and corrupt officials who might travel to Macau to launder money.

Macau residents may face further economic woes as city officials declared on Saturday that employers are not obligated to pay workers during the Covid-related shutdown.

With inputs from AFP.