Pakistan adds up 84 new coronavirus cases, no death

NIH data shows number of critical patients slipping to 109: North Korea reports 15 more 'fever' deaths amid Covid outbreak: Rwanda scraps mask requirement in public

By: AFP
Published: 09:51 AM, 15 May, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: A health worker gets a swab test sample from a woman to be tested for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a swab collection site in Beijing.–AFP
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Pakistan has registered another 84 coronavirus cases with no fatality during the last 24 hours (Saturday), reported National Institute of Health Pakistan on Sunday morning.

As per the latest NIH data, the death toll remained unchanged at 30,376, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,529,249 after adding the fresh 84 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Saturday), 17,333 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.48 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 109.

North Korea reports 15 more 'fever' deaths

North Korea on Sunday reported 15 additional deaths from "fever", days after officially confirming its first-ever Covid-19 cases and ordering nationwide lockdowns.

The outbreak, which leader Kim Jong Un has said is causing "great upheaval", leaves a country with one of the world's worst healthcare systems on the edge of potential disaster.  

North Korea has no Covid vaccines, antiviral treatment drugs or mass-testing capacity.

While it has maintained a rigid coronavirus blockade since the pandemic's start, experts have said that massive Omicron outbreaks in neighbouring countries meant it was only a matter of time before Covid snuck in.

Despite activating a "maximum emergency quarantine system" to slow the disease's spread through its unvaccinated population, Pyongyang is now reporting large numbers of new cases daily.

Official state media KCNA on Sunday said 42 people had died since the outbreak's beginning, with 820,620 cases and at least 324,550 receiving medical treatment.

The news agency reported that "all provinces, cities and counties of the country have been totally locked down and working units, production units and residential units closed from each other."

North Korea first revealed the highly contagious Omicron variant had been detected in the capital on Thursday, with Kim ordering nationwide lockdowns after an emergency meeting of the country's Politburo.

"The spread of malignant disease comes to be a great upheaval in our country," Kim said Saturday.

-- Learning from China --

Sunday's KCNA report did not specify whether the new cases and deaths tested positive for Covid-19, but experts say the country will struggle to screen and diagnose on this scale.

North Korea's healthcare system ranked 193 out of 195 countries in a 2021 Johns Hopkins University survey.

Kim has said the country will "actively learn" from China's pandemic management strategy, according to KCNA.

China, the world's only major economy still maintaining a zero-Covid policy, is battling multiple Omicron outbreaks -- with lockdowns in some major cities, including financial hub Shanghai, sparking increasing public frustration.

North Korea has previously turned down offers of Covid vaccines from China and the World Health Organization's Covax scheme, but both Beijing and Seoul have issued fresh offers of aid and vaccines since the outbreak was announced. 

Despite the public health crisis, new satellite imagery indicates North Korea has resumed construction at a long-dormant nuclear reactor.

The United States and South Korea have warned that Kim is preparing to conduct another nuclear test -- the regime's seventh -- and that it could come any day.

Analysts have warned Kim could speed up nuclear testing plans to distract North Korea's population from the disastrous coronavirus outbreak.

Rwanda scraps mask requirement in public

Rwanda has scrapped a requirement for face masks in public, easing its strict coronavirus restrictions.

Rwanda's vaccine rollout has been among the fastest in Africa, and around a third of its 13 million people have got booster shots.

"Wearing face masks is no longer mandatory. However, people are encouraged to wear masks indoors," the prime minister's office said late Friday.

"Citizens and Rwanda residents must be fully vaccinated in order to access public places (including public transport). Fully vaccinated means having two doses and a booster when eligible," the statement said.

The authorities also announced that visitors will no longer have to take PCR tests, but can take antigen tests instead before travel and after arriving in the country.

Rwanda has implemented a rigorous regime of testing and contact-tracing, recording 1,459 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

With inputs from AFP.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.