Number of daily coronavirus cases doubles in Pakistan

NIH data shows steep rise in number everyday tests and positivity ratio: US president to 'minimise contact' on Mideast visit due to Covid-19

By: News Desk
Published: 10:45 AM, 15 Jul, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: People queueing to undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a residential area in Zhangye in China's northwestern Gansu province.–AFP
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After remaining low key for the past couple of days, there was a steep rise in the number of coronavirus infections as Pakistan recorded 100 percent surge in the cases as compared to the previous day, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

According to the statistics released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Friday morning, Pakistan tested positive 779 Covid-19 cases during the last 24 hours (Thursday) as compared to 390 on the previous day. There were another two fatalities during the last 24 hours (Thursday).

As per the NIH data, the death toll in the country now climbed up to 30,428 after adding the two fatalities while the number of total infections now stood at 1,544,910 after adding the fresh 779 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Thursday), 22,099 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio sped up to 3.53 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 182.

The maximum positivity ratio was recorded in Lahore at six percent, followed by Mardan at 3.18 percent, 2.97 percent in Islamabad, 2.83 percent in Hyderabad, 2.76% in Peshawar, 2.54% in Gilgit, 1.30% in Multan and 1.07 percent in Rawalpindi.

During the last 24 hours (Thursday), another 1,314 patients have recovered from the Covid-19 in Pakistan and the number of total recoveries now stood at 1,504,817. As of Friday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 9,665.

As many as 587,022 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 509,927 in Punjab, 220,358 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 136,755 in Islamabad, 35,633 in Balochistan, 43,442 in Azad Kashmir and 11,773 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,580 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,134 in Sindh, 6,325 in KP, 1,027 in Islamabad, 793 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.

Biden to 'minimise contact' on Mideast visit due to Covid-19

The White House said Wednesday that President Joe Biden would limit physical contact during his Middle East tour, citing coronavirus concerns, as he landed in Israel ahead of a delicate trip to Saudi Arabia.

Biden, 79,  began his first regional visit as president by landing at Ben Gurion airport near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv and he will fly to the Saudi city of Jeddah later this week.

But all eyes will be on his interaction with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the CIA has said was likely behind the 2018 killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident. 

The Khashoggi affair -- he was murdered and dismembered in Saudi's Istanbul consulate -- fed into Biden saying in his successful campaign for the US presidency in 2020 that the kingdom should be treated as a pariah state.

His administration has stepped substantially away from that stance in recent months, as it lobbies Riyadh to pump more oil to reduce highly elevated prices of this commodity, a major factor in a recent surge in US inflation to 40 year highs.

But in the weeks ahead of Biden's tour, the White House was coy about any direct interaction between the US president and the crown prince during the Saudi leg of his visit.

Images of Biden shaking Prince Mohammed's hand in Jeddah would likely draw intense media scrutiny.

Citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Biden's press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said "it's reasonable to expect (Biden) to take some additional precautions. 

"We're trying to minimise contact as much as possible," she told reporters on Air Force One.

"I wouldn't say there's a change" in health protocols, she replied when asked if the measures were aimed at preventing a handshake with Prince Mohammed. 

Biden refrained from shaking hands with Israeli dignitaries who greeted him on the tarmac at Israel's Ben Gurion airport on Wednesday.

He did hold brief, but close and mask-less, face-to-face discussions with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and alternate premier Naftali Bennett. They all exchanged fist bumps. 

Biden however did shake hands with an old acquaintance who greeted him at the airport -- former Israeli prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Netanyahu had a fraught relationship with former US president Barack Obama's administration, in which Biden served as vice president, amid a bitter dispute over how to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions. 

According to Netanyahu's office, Biden told the ex-premier: "You know I love you," as they met on Wednesday.  

Biden, known for his warmth, was also seen shaking hands during an event with lawmakers at the White House just ahead of his trip.

Canada authorizes Moderna vaccine for children 5 and under

Canada on Thursday authorized the use of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for children six months to five years of age.

This means 1.7 million children, among Canada's population of 38 million, are now eligible to be inoculated against the coronavirus.

"After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada has determined that the benefits of this vaccine for children between 6 months and 5 years of age outweigh the potential risks," the agency said. 

It said that in clinical trials the effectiveness of the regime for small kids was found to be similar to that observed in people aged 18 to 25.

"With this announcement, parents and caregivers now have an option to protect these very young children, a group at high risk of infection and where additional health prevention measures like wearing masks may not always be feasible," said Patricia Gauthier, president of Moderna's Canadian unit.

The green light comes a year and half after the Moderna vaccine was approved in Canada for adults.

The United States launched its inoculation campaign for children under five in June.

Also Thursday, Ottawa reinstated mandatory random Covid-19 testing of air travellers arriving at the nation's four major airports -- in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver -- after pausing the program last month. 

"We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the Covid-19 virus, and of new variants of concern," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.

Anyone testing positive must self-isolate for 10 days.

With inputs from AFP.