Pakistan logs 5 corona deaths, 303 cases; slaps travel ban on 6 countries
A medical staff member prepares a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) Covid-19 vaccine, in the Lyon Gerland vaccination center, in France.–AFP
Pakistan has introduced travel restrictions on six countries including South Africa in an apparent move to contain the spread of new Covid variant, Omicron, as the country reported another five deaths and 303 infections during the last 24 hours (Saturday), showed the statistics released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Sunday morning.
During the last 24 hours (Sunday), a total of 36,979 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.81 percent. The number of patients in critical care was 946.
Statistics 28 Nov 21:— NCOC (@OfficialNcoc) November 28, 2021
Total Tests in Last 24 Hours: 36,979
Positive Cases: 303
Positivity %: 0.81%
Deaths : 5
Patients on Critical Care: 946
During the last 24 hours (Sunday), as many as 172 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,241,761. As of Sunday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 13,719.
As many as 475,248 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 442,950 in Punjab, 179,928 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 107,626 in Islamabad, 33,479 in Balochistan, 34,547 in Azad Kashmir and 10,411 in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Moreover, 13,016 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 7,621 in Sindh, 5,833 in KP, 952 in Islamabad, 742 in Azad Kashmir, 359 in Balochistan and 186 in Gilgit Baltistan.
To avoid the new wave of coronavirus amid the spread of new Covid strain, the National Command Operation Center (NCOC) has imposed a travel ban on six countries. The decision was made by the NCOC in view of the spread of the virus in South Africa and adjoining areas.
The NCOC issued a new travel guide and imposed a travelling ban on passengers from different countries including Hong Kong, Lithuania, South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia.
The travellers from the said countries would be required to have a vaccination certificate and a 72-hour-old corona negative test before boarding.
In the travel guide, the NCOC said that Pakistani passengers travelling in an emergency from these countries would be allowed only under the exemption rules.
US praises SAfrica's detection of new Covid strain
The United States praised South Africa Saturday for quickly identifying the new Covid strain called Omicron and sharing this information with the world -- a barely veiled slap at China's handling of the original outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with South Africa's international relations and cooperation minister, Naledi Pandor, and they discussed cooperation on vaccinating people in Africa against Covid-19, the State Department said.
"Secretary Blinken specifically praised South Africa’s scientists for the quick identification of the Omicron variant and South Africa’s government for its transparency in sharing this information, which should serve as a model for the world," the statement said.
First under Donald Trump and now under President Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly criticized China as not being forthcoming on the origins of the coronavirus, which was first detected in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan before spreading around the world. It has now killed nearly 5.2 million people.
In August of this year the US intelligence community released a report in which it said it could not reach a firm conclusion on the origins of the virus -- among animals or in a research lab were top scenarios -- because China had not helped in the US probe.
The US has also accused Beijing of waiting too long before sharing crucial information about the outbreak, saying that a more transparent handling could have helped halt the spread of the virus.
After the US report was issued this summer, Biden accused Beijing of stonewalling.
"The world deserves answers, and I will not rest until we get them," Biden said in a statement after that unclassified report came out.
"Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world."
The pandemic is one of many sources of acute tension today in US-China relations, as the two great powers clash over trade, human rights, and the prickly issue of Taiwan, among other matters.
First Czech case of new Covid strain
The regional hospital in the northern Czech city of Liberec confirmed the new Omicron strain of Covid-19 in a female patient, its spokesman Vaclav Ricar told Czech Television Saturday.
"My colleagues from the department of genetics and molecular diagnostics confirmed the strain with 90-percent probability after a sequence analysis," said Ricar.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said earlier Saturday that the woman had been in Namibia and flew back to the Czech Republic via South Africa and Dubai.
"Given where the patient came from and all the circumstances, we can confirm the strain has been confirmed," added Ricar.
He said the sample would now be analysed by the national reference laboratory.
"But the result is already very precise," Ricar said.
Babis said the woman was vaccinated and had mild symptoms of the disease.
The Czech Republic, an EU member of 10.7 million people, is currently grappling with a spike in Covid-19 infections making it one of the worst-hit countries in the world in terms of infections per capita.
On Thursday, it registered a record-high daily growth of 27,717 new cases.
Overall, the Czech Republic has seen more than 2.1 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 32,744 deaths.
EU officials agreed on Friday to urge all 27 nations in the bloc to restrict travel from several southern African nations.
The Czech Republic already imposed restrictions on travel from the region on Friday.
With inputs from AFP.