All major coronavirus indicators crash in Pakistan

NIH data shows number of daily cases going down 50, everyday tests to 8,000: Hong Kong to further relax covid restrictions 'soon'

By: News Desk
Published: 11:26 AM, 20 Sep, 2022
Pakistan coronavirus
Caption: Representational image.
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All the major coronavirus indicators have nosedived as Pakistan reported just 42 infections and no fatality during the last 24 hours (Monday) with infectivity ratio plunging to just over half a percent, suggesting that the pandemic is on its way out, showed the statistics released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on Tuesday morning, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

According to NIH data, the death toll in the country remained the same at 30,607 while the number of total infections now stood at 1,571,935 after adding the fresh 42 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Monday), 8,030 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.52 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 73.

The development in Pakistan comes a day after US President Joe Biden said that the Covid pandemic in the United States is over.

With Covid restrictions largely eliminated in the country and travel having rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, the comments were reflective of the current status of much of US society.

"The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with Covid. We're still doing a lot of work on it..., but the pandemic is over," Biden told the CBS news program "60 Minutes" in an interview taped as he walked the floor of the Detroit Auto Show last week.

"If you notice, no one's wearing masks," Biden said, gesturing around the hall.

"Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing."

The president's remarks, however, come only a few weeks after his administration asked Congress for billions of dollars in funding to maintain its testing and vaccine programs through a potential fall wave.

The visit to Michigan last week by Biden, a self-professed "car guy," boosted the profile of the Detroit gathering, which is being held for the first time since 2019.

In a keynote speech, Biden highlighted recent legislation passed to support US automakers' shift to electric vehicles, as well as major new investments in semiconductor production.

Hong Kong to further relax covid restrictions 'soon'

Hong Kong's leader on Tuesday said he will soon make a decision on further relaxing coronavirus restrictions, as residents and businesses decry quarantine rules that have kept the finance hub cut off for more than two years.

"We will make a decision soon and announce to the public," chief executive John Lee told reporters.

"We want to be connected with the different places in the world. We would like to have an orderly opening up," he added.

Hong Kong has adhered to a version of China's strict zero-Covid rules throughout the pandemic, battering the economy and deepening the city's brain drain as rival business hubs reopen.

It maintains mandatory hotel quarantine for international arrivals -- currently at three days -- widespread masking, business operating limits and bans on more than four people gathering in public.

Lee, a Beijing-anointed former security chief, took office in July and vowed to reopen the city while keeping cases low.

He reduced hotel quarantine from seven to three days but has faced a growing chorus of criticism from residents, business organisations and health experts saying he should go further.

Over the past week multiple Hong Kong media outlets have reported, citing sources, that the government has already agreed to lift quarantine.

Lee would not confirm that decision or commit to a firm timeline on Tuesday.

But his comments were the strongest indication yet that Hong Kong is planning to join much of the rest of the world in accepting endemicity.

That would leave just China and Taiwan still maintaining mandatory quarantine for arrivals.

"Our goal is to maximise Hong Kong's international connectivity and reduce the inconvenience for arrivals due to quarantine, on the condition that we can control the trend of the pandemic," Lee said.

Hong Kong is in the midst of a technical recession while its financial chief recently warned its fiscal deficit is expected to balloon to HK$100 billion ($12.7 billion) this year, twice initial estimates.

Arrivals at the airport, once one of the world's busiest, are at a fraction of pre-pandemic levels with many airlines skipping the city altogether.

Regional rival Singapore has long dispensed with coronavirus controls and is hosting a slew of conferences, entertainment and sporting events over the coming months.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has seen multiple events cancelled by organisers citing the uncertain pandemic controls including most recently next year's World Dragon Boat Championships which will be held in Thailand instead.

Hong Kong is planning to host a banking summit and the Rugby Sevens in November, although under current rules players in the latter will have to stay in a "closed loop" bubble.

With inputs from AFP.