Omicron surge brings Pakistan highest COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic

Web Desk
A health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to students at a government school in Karachi, on January 14, 2022. Photo: PPI
A health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine to students at a government school in Karachi, on January 14, 2022. Photo: PPI

  • Pakistan records 7,678 new COVID-19 infections in last 24 hours, NCOC data shows.
  • Coronavirus positivity ratio in country shoots up to 12.93%.
  • Country sees 23 deaths from coronavirus; total deaths at 29,065.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan registered its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases — 7,678 — in the last 24 hours, up from 6,808, the second-highest daily toll, since the pandemic started in 2020, official figures showed Friday morning.

Previously, the highest daily toll was recorded on June 13, 2020, when the country reported 6,825 coronavirus cases, the National Command and Operation Centre's (NCOC) data showed.

With the new infections, the overall cases have moved past 1.35 million. Meanwhile, as many as 59,343 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, and the positivity ratio shot up to 12.93%.

The deaths from coronavirus also went up to 23 — highest since October 15 — in the last 24 hours from five a day earlier, taking the overall death toll to 29,065, official figures showed.

The cases are on the rise, but top officials have refused to impose a lockdown, saying that the country's economy could not bear the burden of another.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan turned down the possibility of imposing a lockdown.

Addressing a launching ceremony of the National Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Policy in Islamabad, he said the government will not shut down the economy but will advise people to strictly observe mandated SOPs for COVID-19.

Amid the rapid spread of coronavirus, two major politicians — Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin — also tested positive for coronavirus two days back.

NCOC issues new guidelines

The NCOC had on Wednesday issued revised coronavirus guidelines and SOPs for the education, restaurant, entertainment, and other sectors as Pakistan struggles to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.

The forum had decided that indoor weddings, dining, and gatherings will be banned in cities and districts with an infection rate higher than 10%. The schools in such cities and districts will remain open, with "staggered" classes for children under 12 years.

As a result of the rising cases, the NCOC also lowered the crowd attendance for Pakistan Super League (PSL) from 100% to 25% for Karachi-leg matches, while children under the age of 12 have been barred from the stadium.