Wednesday Jan 05, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Federal ministers on Wednesday urged Pakistanis to get vaccinated and revisit mask-wearing, as the cases of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, have started spreading rapidly in the country.
Major cities have started reporting hundreds of cases of the new variant, which was first detected in the country on December 13 in Karachi. Lahore has a total of 170 Omicron cases and Islamabad 141 to date.
"Omicron spreads at a fast pace, but it isn't lethal [...] however, do not think that nothing will happen to you if you get infected with the Omicron variant," National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar said.
The federal minister for planning, development and special initiatives said that in the United States and the United Kingdom, the variant was not proving to be as lethal as previous ones, as their vaccination rate was high.
"In the United States, after Omicron was detected, the cases rose by 400% and the hospitalisations went up by 92%. In the United Kingdom, cases moved up by almost 300% and hospitalisations 134%."
The federal minister said the major difference between South Africa — where the variant first emerged and wreaked havoc — and the other two countries was that their rate of vaccination was much higher.
"So to save yourselves from coronavirus, get vaccinated," the federal minister said, as he rubbished claims that vaccines do not work against Omicron.
The federal minister said children under 14 years also got infected with the virus and urged that they should be vaccinated as well.
Message for megacities
In a message to people living in megacities, he said that from day one, the government had been informing that in heavily populated areas, coronavirus tends to spread very quickly.
In the last seven days, on average, Lahore and Karachi accounted for 60% of the entire country's cases, he said, urging people of the megacities to get jabbed as soon as possible.
For his part, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said NCOC's data showed that the people who were vaccinated were less affected by the virus.
"Vaccines are protecting everyone; the vaccines that are approved by the government are working well against the Omicron variant," he said.
According to the statistics issued by the NCOC, the positivity ratio remained 1.8% during the last 24 hours.
As many as 898 new infections were detected during 49,673 diagnostic tests conducted overnight.
Meanwhile, five more patients died which pushed the total coronavirus death tally of the country to 28,950. Moreover, 245 patients recuperated during the last 24 hours after the total number of recoveries since the pandemic hit Pakistan climbed up to 1,257,600.