Pakistan posts 483 new coronavirus infections, two deaths
NCOC data shows positivity ratio stands at 1.23%: China reports first two Covid-19 deaths in more than a year
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Pakistan has recorded another 483 coronavirus infections and two deaths during the last 24 hours (Friday), showed the statistics released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday morning.
As per the latest NCOC data, after the addition of two new deaths, the overall toll has now surged to 30,328 whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,521,513 after adding the fresh 483 cases.
During the last 24 hours (Friday), 39,067 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio again climbed to 1.23 percent after nose-diving to 0.64 percent a day earlier. The number of patients in critical care was 503.
Statistics 19 Mar 22— NFRCC (@NFRCCofficial) March 18, 2022
Total Tests in Last 24 Hours: 39,067
Positive Cases: 483
Positivity %: 1.23%
Patients on Critical Care: 503
During the last 24 hours (Friday), as many as 1,857 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,475,473. As of Saturday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 15,712.
As many as 573,347 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 504,324 in Punjab, 218,583 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 134,930 in Islamabad, 35,458 in Balochistan, 43,209 in Azad Kashmir and 11,662 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Moreover, 13,547 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,091 in Sindh, 6,307 in KP, 1,022 in Islamabad, 792 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.
China reports two Covid-19 deaths
China reported its first two Covid-19 deaths in more than a year on Saturday, the National Health Commission said, both coming in the northeastern province of Jilin as the country faces its worst case upsurge since the pandemic's outset.
The fatalities were the first reported in China since January 26, 2021, and bring the country's total death toll in the pandemic to 4,638.
In all, China reported 4,051 new cases on Saturday, down from 4,365 the day before, the commission said.
The country where the virus emerged in late 2019 has largely kept it under control thanks to a combination of strict border controls, lengthy quarantines and targeted lockdowns.
But the highly transmissible Omicron variant is posing a stern challenge to that strategy, prompting authorities to close off cities including the southern tech hub of Shenzhen, home to 17.5 million people.
The world's most populous country has gone from reporting under 100 daily infections just three weeks ago to well more than 1,000 per day for over a week.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday the country will "stick with" its zero-Covid strategy, state TV reported.
Speaking at a meeting of China's top leaders, Xi said the country should "continue to put people and life at the forefront, stick with scientific accuracy and dynamic-zero, and curb the spread of the epidemic as soon as possible," according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Tens of millions of people are currently under stay at home orders across China to try and stamp out the latest outbreak.
Beijing's communist leadership has made its handling of the pandemic a matter of political capital, saying the low death rate demonstrates the strength of its governance model.
Racing to tamp down outbreaks in multiple cities, Chinese officials have also moved to free up hospital beds over fears the virus could put the health system under strain.
Jilin province -- which has reported thousands of cases over the past week -- has built eight "makeshift hospitals" and two quarantine centres to stem the surge in infections.
State news outlets this week broadcast footage of dozens of giant cranes assembling temporary medical facilities in Jilin, which has only around 23,000 hospital beds for some 24 million residents.
Authorities also said people with mild cases could isolate at central quarantine facilities, having previously sent all patients with any symptoms to specialist hospitals.
The latest flare-ups have prompted long queues to form outside mass testing sites and seen tight controls at ports, raising fears of trade disruption.
Dutch anti-Covid activist remains in custody
A well-known activist who protested against Covid measures in the Netherlands will remain in custody for two more weeks on incitement charges, Dutch prosecutors said on Friday.
Police took Willem Engel into custody on Wednesday in Rotterdam after more than 22,000 people signed a complaint against him.
The dreadlocked Engel, 45, has been one of the leading faces of the Dutch anti-vaccine movement and has been involved in several court battles with the Hague-based government since the pandemic began two years ago.
Engel had shared posts on social media which "led to other people committing criminal offences or inciting others to do so," the public prosecution service said in a statement.
"He will remain in custody for the next two weeks."
Video posted by the NOS national broadcaster show two police officers handcuffing a surprised-looking Engel in a Rotterdam suburb on Wednesday.
His arrest comes after police and prosecutors opened a probe in January following a complaint against him signed by 22,500 people.
The prosecutors accused Engel, a Rotterdam dance teacher, of "spreading medical disinformation, fraud, and statements with a terrorist intent and threats", Dutch media reports said.
Engel has denied committing any crime.
"I simply wanted to have a strong debate, but I would never cross a line," NOS quoted him as saying.
Engel's arrest is unusual in the free-wheeling Netherlands where even extreme views are usually tolerated.
The public prosecution service however said there were limits to freedom of expression, which included "never" encouraging others to commit crime.
Incitement as a crime carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail or a 22,500 euro ($24,800) fine.
With inputs from AFP.