Pakistan adds up 329 coronavirus infections, three deaths

NCOC data shows positivity ratio standing at 1.10% with number of active cases climbing up to 8,347: EU approves AstraZeneca Covid prevention jab Singapore to lift virus travel curbs

By: News Desk
Published: 09:20 AM, 25 Mar, 2022
Pakistan adds up 329 coronavirus infections, three deaths
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After reporting zero deaths during the last two days, Pakistan posted three deaths and 329 infections due to the coronavirus pandemic in the last 24 hours (Thursday), showed figures of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) released on Friday morning. 

As per the latest NCOC data, the number of deaths soared to 30,336, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,523,401 after adding the fresh 329 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Thursday), 29,790 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 1.10 percent. The number of patients in critical care was 446.

During the last 24 hours (Thursday), as many as 42 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,484,718. As of Friday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 8,347.

As many as 574,467 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 504,697 in Punjab, 218,838 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 135,006 in Islamabad, 35,467 in Balochistan, 43,238 in Azad Kashmir and 11,688 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,551 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,093 in Sindh, 6,309 in KP, 1,022 in Islamabad, 792 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.

EU drug watchdog approves AstraZeneca Covid prevention jab

The EU's drug watchdog on Thursday recommended for approval AstraZeneca's Covid-19 prevention cocktail, which can be used for patients with immune system problems or severe reactions to other coronavirus vaccines.

The European Medicines Agency's human medicines committee "has recommended granting a marketing authorisation for Evusheld, developed by AstraZeneca for the prevention of Covid-19 in adults and adolescents from 12 years of age," the Amsterdam-based EMA said in a statement.

Evusheld consists of two monoclonal antibodies tixagevimab and cilgavimab -- proteins designed to attack the spike protein of the Sars-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19 -- at two different sites, the EMA said.

It said data from a test on 5,000 people who were given two jabs, showed it reduced the risk of Covid-19 infection by 77 percent and protection lasted for at least six months.

The study was done on adults who had never had Covid-19 and had never received a vaccine or other preventative treatment, the EMA said.

"The safety profile of Evusheld was favourable and side effects were generally mild, with a small number of people reporting reactions at the injection site or hypersensitivity," the medicines watchdog added.

But the study was done before the emergence of the infectious Omicron strain of the virus and "laboratory studies show that the Omicron BA.1 variant may be less sensitive to tixagevimab and cilgavimab than the Omicron BA.2 variant," the watchdog said.

The EMA's recommendation will now be forwarded to the European Commission for final approval before distribution to the 27-member bloc.

Evusheld received the US-based FDA's emergency authorisation in December.

Singapore to lift virus travel curbs in 'milestone'

Singapore will lift restrictions for all vaccinated travellers from next week, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday hailing it as a "major milestone" in the aviation hub's efforts to live with Covid-19.

The city-state is the latest Asian country to ease travel restrictions in a region that has generally been more reluctant to lift barriers than Europe and North America. 

A gateway for many travellers arriving in the Asia-Pacific, Singapore had already started quarantine-free travel schemes with some countries in recent months. 

From April 1, fully vaccinated adults and unvaccinated children will be allowed to enter the country without quarantining, as long as they take a pre-departure test, officials said. 

Lee said Singapore had reached a "major milestone" in its efforts to live with the virus. 

Easing travel curbs will "reconnect Singapore with the world," he said in a televised address.

"It will give a much-needed boost to businesses, particularly the tourism sector, and it will help Singapore reclaim its position as a business and aviation hub."

Only travellers on a "restricted list" will face curbs in entering Singapore, although there are currently no countries on the list.

A raft of other coronavirus measures were also eased, with people in Singapore no longer required to wear masks outside, and limits on group sizes raised to 10, up from five previously.

At the start of the pandemic, the country of 5.5 million kept Covid-19 cases low through border closures and a tough lockdown.

It has faced sizeable outbreaks since last year and, with some of the world's highest vaccination rates, authorities have shifted to a policy of living with the virus. 

The pandemic plunged Singapore into its worst-ever recession in 2020 as the trading hub closed its borders. 

International visitor arrivals dropped to just 2.7 million that year from more than 19 million in 2019.

Singapore's approach stands in contrast to rival financial hub Hong Kong, where arrivals are still required to undergo lengthy quarantines in hotels.

Following Singapore's announcement, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam was forced to defend her administration's approach, insisting the Chinese city remained an "attractive" financial centre.

"The policies and measures to be adopted by each government in combating Covid differ," she said. 

Like mainland China, Hong Kong has stuck to a zero-Covid policy, but the approach has led to an exodus of foreign and local residents, and failed to stop a fierce Omicron outbreak in recent months.

Other countries in the Asia-Pacific that have recently announced an easing of travel restrictions include Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

With inputs from AFP.