Not a single recovery as Pakistan reports uptick in coronavirus cases

NIH reports one death, rise in number of critical patients, positivity ration: Greece to drop most mask restrictions from June 1

By: News Desk
Published: 09:32 AM, 19 May, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: Chinese workers wearing protective gear stack up boxes over a cart to deliver in a neighbourhood during a Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown in the Jing'an district in Shanghai.–AFP
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There was un uptick in the number of coronavirus infections detected across Pakistan with one death reported but shockingly not a single recovery was recorded anywhere in the country.

Pakistan registered another 89 coronavirus cases and one death during the last 24 hours (Wednesday), reported National Institute of Health Pakistan on Thursday morning.

As per the latest NIH data, the death toll crawled up to 30,379, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,529,560 after adding the fresh 89 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), 17,343 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio rose to 0.51 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 86.

During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), not a single patient was reported recovered from the virus across the country and the total recoveries stood at 1,495,830. As of Thursday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 3,351.

As many as 577,201 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 506,865 in Punjab, 219,616 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 135,312 in Islamabad, 35,494 in Balochistan, 43,324 in Azad Kashmir and 11,748 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,564 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,106 in Sindh, 6,324 in KP, 1,024 in Islamabad, 792 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.

 

Greece to drop most mask restrictions

Greece will drop most mask restrictions from June 1 to mid-September, a period coinciding with the height of its vital tourism season, the health minister said Wednesday.

Thanos Plevris said masks will no longer be mandatory in most areas including on planes and intercity travel, though they will remain in force in hospitals, elderly care homes and city transport.

While the failure to wear a mask will no longer carry a fine, their use is still recommended, the minister said.

Education facilities and ferries will be subject to a later announcement, he said.

Plevris said last month that Greece was trying to "coexist" with Covid-19. 

The government early this year began removing restrictions to boost tourism, which accounts for around a quarter of national income.

Mandatory screening tests for travellers who hold a European vaccination certificate were scrapped in February, before the tourism season launched in March.

Vaccine passes in restaurants, bars and shops have also been dropped.

Over 29,000 people in Greece have died from causes attributed to the virus, with over 3.4 million cases recorded so far.

Another 19 deaths were announced on Wednesday.

Pfizer Covid pill preventing hospitalizations and deaths 

Pfizer's anti-Covid pill Paxlovid is helping stave off hospitalizations and deaths amid the United States' latest wave of infections, a senior White House official said Wednesday.

Demand for the treatment has soared, with a four-fold increase over the past month and an estimated 20,000 prescriptions being written every day, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters in a press call. 

"I think that is actually a really important reason why, despite this very substantial increase in infections, we have not seen a commensurate increase in deaths," he said. 

"We have seen hospitalizations rise, but again, not as much as one would have expected at this point, despite the fact that hospitalizations do lag. When you look at ICU care, the rate of ICU hospital admissions is much lower than what one would expect."

President Joe Biden's administration last month embarked on an aggressive push to expand access to the oral antiviral at tens of thousands of locations across the country.

Omicron's subvariants have driven daily new cases to 94,000, a three-fold increase over the last month, with hospitalizations running at 3,000 a day, and deaths at around 275.

Paxlovid, a combination of two drugs, both taken orally over five days, was shown in a clinical trial to reduce hospitalizations and deaths among at-risk people by almost 90 percent.

Concerns have been raised about "Paxlovid rebound" -- in which some patients clear the virus while on the treatment, but test positive after completing their course.

Jha said the government was studying the issue closely, "but I think it is not leading to people getting particularly sick." The rate of rebound during Paxlovid's clinical trial was two percent, but the dominant variant at the time was Delta.

He also encouraged doctors to adopt a "relatively permissive" approach to prescribing the medicine, given the broad eligibility criteria for being high risk.

"You should not get excessively restrictive, we have plenty of supply right now," he advised doctors.

Jha also urged Congress to quickly provide $22.5 billion in Covid funding so that the government could ensure the supply of next generation Covid vaccines, which are expected to protect against multiple variants.

"Other countries are in conversations with the manufacturers and starting to advance their negotiations," he said, warning Americans could be left behind.

If Congress failed to provide funding, "I think it'd be terrible, I think we'd see a lot of unnecessary loss of life if that were to happen," he said, but the Biden administration would try to find a way to provide vaccines to those at highest risk, he added.

With inputs from AFP.