Pakistan records uptick in infections as WHO warns of Omicron tsunami

By: News Desk
Published: 08:05 AM, 30 Dec, 2021
Pakistan coronavirus WHO
Caption: Argentinians being vaccinated against the novel coronavirus disease Covid-19 in Mar del Plata, about 400 km south of Buenos Aires.–AFP
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After hovering around daily 300 infections for the past many weeks, Pakistan has registered an uptick in coronavirus cases during the last 24 hours (Wednesday) amid a warning from WHO that Omicron-driven “tsunami” threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems as data showed cases have surged across the world in the past week to levels never seen before.

According to the statistics released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Thursday morning, Pakistan has recorded three coronavirus deaths and 482 infections during the last 24 hours (Wednesday).

The latest figures released by the NCOC showed that after the addition of three new deaths, the overall toll has now surged to 28,921 whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,294,861 after adding the fresh 482 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), a total of 50,662 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.95 percent. The number of patients in critical care was 639.

During the last 24 hours (Wednesday), as many as 535 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,255,931. As of Thursday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 10,009.

As many as 481,381 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 444,862 in Punjab, 181,334 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 108,565 in Islamabad, 33,630 in Balochistan, 34,660 in Azad Kashmir and 10,429 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Moreover, 13,066 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 7,666 in Sindh, 5,927 in KP, 967 in Islamabad, 746 in Azad Kashmir, 363 in Balochistan and 186 in Gilgit Baltistan.

 

Covid variant 'tsunami' as world cases hit record

A Covid variant-driven "tsunami" threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems, the WHO said as AFP data showed cases have surged across the world in the past week to levels never seen before. 

Highly transmissible Omicron propelled the United States, France and Denmark to fresh records on Wednesday, with AFP's tally of 6.55 million infections reported globally for seven days through Tuesday demonstrating the unprecedented spread.

The figures were the highest since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, underscoring the blistering pace of Omicron transmission, with tens of millions of people facing a second consecutive year of restrictions dampening New Year's Eve celebrations.

"I am highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse," he added.

The surge, currently worst in Europe, is forcing governments to walk a tightrope between imposing restrictions designed to stop hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and the need to keep economies and societies open two years after the virus first emerged in late 2019.

The United States, where Omicron is already overwhelming hospitals, recorded its highest-ever seven-day average of new cases at 265,427, according Johns Hopkins University.

Harvard epidemiologist and immunologist Michael Mina tweeted that the count was probably just the "tip of the iceberg" with the true number of cases likely far higher, because of a shortage of tests.

But the country also appears to be experiencing a decoupling between infections and severe outcomes compared to previous waves, officials noted, as evidence accumulates of milder cases under the new variant.

France registered a new daily record of more than 200,000 cases -- more than double the number recorded on Christmas Day -- and extended into January the closure of nightclubs.

French police said that wearing face masks outdoors will become compulsory again in Paris from Friday for everyone over age 11 except those inside vehicles, cyclists, users of two-wheeled transport like scooters, and those participating in sports.

Denmark, which currently has the world's highest rate of infection per person, recorded a fresh record of 23,228 new infections, which authorities attributed in part to the large numbers of tests carried out after Christmas celebrations.

Portugal also saw a record with nearly 27,000 cases reported in 24 hours, while Lebanon had 3,150 new infections -- its highest daily tally since vaccines rolled out earlier this year.

The number of people in hospital with Covid in England topped 10,000, the highest total since March, as Britain hit a new record of 183,037 daily cases in the last 24 hours.

- No music in Greek bars -

Studies suggest Omicron, now the dominant strain in some countries, carries a reduced risk of sending those infected to hospital, but the WHO still urged caution.

More than 5.4 million people around the world have died from Covid-19, but over the last week the number of deaths averaged 6,450 a day, the AFP tally said, the lowest since October 2020.

In Europe, where more than 3.5 million cases have been recorded in the last seven days, Greece banned music in bars and restaurants until January 16, including on New Year's Eve while Cyprus banned dancing in public venues.

Germany has put restrictions on sports competitions and shut nightclubs, limiting private gatherings to 10 vaccinated people.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said around 90 percent of coronavirus patients in intensive care units had not had a booster jab, defending his decision not to clamp down on festivities.

The high take-up of boosters in England "is allowing us to go ahead with New Year in the cautious way that we are," he said despite new closures in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

- New Year's Eve cancelled -

Armed police in Jingxi in southern China, near the border with Vietnam, paraded four alleged violators of Covid rules through the streets, state media reported, a practice that was banned but which has resurfaced in the struggle to enforce a zero-Covid policy.

Mexico City's mayor cancelled the capital's massive New Year's Eve celebrations after a rise in cases.

In Ukraine, three people died after a candle lit by a hospital employee in memory of a patient who died of the virus started a fire in an intensive care unit in the western town of Kosiv.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS

Here are the global developments in the coronavirus crisis:

- World record of cases -

The world hits a record number of Covid infections in a seven-day period, with more than 935,000 cases detected on average each day between 22-28 December, according to an AFP tally.

- Lack of booster blamed -

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defends his decision not to tighten virus curbs in England by saying around 90 percent of coronavirus patients in intensive care units have not had a booster jab.

- Silent night in Greece -

Greece bans music in bars and restaurants in a bid to limit New Year's Eve parties, as it announces a new 24-hour record of 28,828 Covid-19 infections.

- German measures 'not enough' -

Germany's health minister Karl Lauterbach warns that current coronavirus curbs will not suffice in preventing a wave of new infections of the Omicron variant.

- Spain shortens quarantine -

Spain follows the United States in shortening the mandatory isolation period for people who test positive for Covid-19, reducing it from 10 to seven days.

- Djokovic pulls out of Sydney ATP -

Novak Djokovic has pulled out of the ATP Cup in Sydney, organisers say, amid speculation about his vaccination status and whether he will defend his Australian Open title. 

- Real Madrid, Barca players positive -

Three more Barcelona players, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Gavi, have tested positive for Covid-19, as have four more at Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Vinicius Junior, the clubs announce.

- More than 5.4 million dead -

The coronavirus has killed at least 5,413,630 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally Wednesday from official sources compiled by AFP.

Overall, the United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 820,929, followed by Brazil with 618,705, India with 480,592 and Russia with 307,022.

Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the World Health Organization estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.

With inputs from AFP.