Monday Jan 03 2022

Coronavirus: Omicron cases spreading like wildfire in Karachi, say experts

A paramedic checks temperature of a woman with a temperature gun. Photo:
A paramedic checks temperature of a woman with a temperature gun. Photo:
  • Coronavirus positivity rate has touched 6% in Karachi, while 321 cases were reported from city Sunday
  • Federal health officials say no casualties witnessed overnight anywhere in province.
  • Say Lahore is next on list where cases are expected to rise after Karachi as vaccination rate is only 50% among eligible population. 

KARACHI: The beginning of a fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Karachi is being expected as a rapid surge in coronavirus case has been observed across Sindh, and especially in the port city after 321 SARS-Cov-2 or COVID-19 infections were detected, The News reported Monday.

However, no casualties have been witnessed overnight anywhere in the province, said the federal health officials Sunday.

“A total of 403 new coronavirus cases have been reported in Sindh in the last 24 hours, of which 321 were from Karachi," the officials said.

An official of the National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHS,R&C) said that the latest infections pushed the positivity rate in the city to 6%.

"As many as 75% cases reported from Sindh were from Karachi alone, probably due to community transmission of Omicron variant of the virus," he said.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, hinting at the start of the fifth COVID-19 across the country with Karachi being the hotspot, called for taking preventive measures by citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Clear evidence now of a beginning of another COVID-19 wave which has been expected for last few weeks. Genome sequencing shows a rising proportion of omicron cases particularly in Karachi. Remember: wearing a mask is your best protection,” Asad Umar had said in a tweet Sunday morning.

NHS officials said they were fearing the start of the fifth wave of COVID-19 from Karachi after the emergence of the first case of the Omicron variant from the port city.

They said that the "Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire" due to the low vaccination rate in Karachi, where only 40% of the public is vaccinated,

According to them, Lahore is next on the list where cases are expected to rise after Karachi as the vaccination rate is also only 50% among the eligible population while Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are also very relaxed in both the cities.

“Cases will also increase in Islamabad, but as compared to Karachi and Lahore, Islamabad is 80% vaccinated while SOPs are more adhered to in the capital as compared to Karachi and Lahore,” the official added.

Eminent infectious diseases expert Dr Faisal Mehmood from the Aga Khan University Hospital said it was the right time that strict measures were taken and enforcement of SOPs is implemented in Karachi to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He said an exponential rise in Covid-19 has started and it can put extraordinary pressure on hospitals.

“No doubt that cases have started rising in Karachi and one of the reasons is the Omicron variant. The other is pretty relaxed SOPs while the vaccination rate is also low in Karachi,” Dr Faisal Mehmood said, adding that if immediate measures were not taken to contain the disease, it would definitely put pressure on hospitals.

“This is the right time to take strict measures to contain the spread of the Omicron variant or it will be too late. Once it starts spreading, it will be hard to control,” Dr Faisal Mehmood warned and added that there would definitely be pressure and an increase in the number of hospitalisations in Karachi in the weeks ahead.

Sindh Health Department officials said the Sindh chief minister and health department are likely to review the situation and discuss the overall spread of COVID-19 with experts on Monday or Tuesday after an exponential rise in cases. They said 403 new cases had emerged in Sindh when 14,555 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, adding that 321 cases were from Karachi.

They maintained that currently, 5,857 patients were under treatment; of them, 5,677 were in home isolation, 40 at isolation centers and 140 at different hospitals.

The condition of 136 patients was stated to be critical, including 15 shifted to ventilators.

Of the 321 cases from Karachi, 163 were from South Karachi, East Karachi 100, Central Karachi 16, Dadu 15, Malir and Korangi 14 each, West Karachi 11, Matiari, Tando Allahyar and Tando Mohammad Khan seven each, Hyderabad and Jamshoro six each, Tharparkar, Sanghar, Shikarpur and Ghotki 4 each, Umarkot, Larkano and Jacobabad 3 each and from Mirpurkhas and Sukkur two each new Covid cases were reported.