New coronavirus cases hit highest level in seven weeks

53 more die in 24 hours / Ghani says Sindh may go for another lockdown / Sindh health minister Pechuho receives vaccine shot

ISLAMABAD: The daily number of new coronavirus cases in the country during the last twenty-four hours rose to the highest level in seven weeks, according to the data provided by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) on Thursday.

Pakistan reported 2,258 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally after January 20 when the number of new coronavirus cases remained 2,363. The total number of infections rose to 597,497 with these fresh cases.

According to the National NCOC, the country’s death toll climbed to 13,377 after 53 more people succumbed to the deadly disease during the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, 1,276 patients recovered from Covid-19 during the same time period, taking the total recoveries to 566,492.

The coronavirus positivity rate has shot up to 5.36 per cent. According to coronavirus statistics shared by the government, about 42,164 coronavirus tests were conducted across the country in the last 24 hours, out of which 2,258 people were tested positive.

According to the NCOC, the total active Covid-19 cases across the country are 17,628, whereas no active case was reported in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). The highest ventilator occupancy was recorded in Lahore with 39 per cent occupied, followed by Islamabad at 37 per cent, Peshawar at 24 per cent and Multan at 21 per cent.

The NCOC further reported that the highest number of oxygen bed occupancy in the country was in Gujrat at 94 per cent followed by Peshawar at 39 per cent, Islamabad at 36 per cent and Lahore at 29 per cent.

About 42,164 Covid-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours out of which 9,964 were conducted in Sindh, 17,174 in Punjab, 6,704 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), 6,863 in Islamabad, 405 in Balochistan, 341 in G-B and 713 tests were conducted in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

Out of the 13,377 total reported deaths, there have been at least 4,448 deaths in Sindh, 5,662 in Punjab, 2,129 in K-P and 516 in Islamabad. About 202 deaths were reported in Balochistan, 104 deaths in G-B and 316 in AJK.

The NCOC also reported that a total of 9,360,202 tests have been conducted since the outbreak of the pandemic. There are about 631 hospitals with Covid-19 facilities with 2,144 patients admitted across the country, it added.

Meanwhile, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said on Thursday that the Sindh government may have to impose another lockdown if coronavirus cases keep on increasing in the province.

For now, however, the minister said only a handful of cities have seen a rise in the coronavirus positivity ratio. “We may go towards a lockdown if the situation worsens,” Ghani said.

Speaking about the closure of schools, the minister noted that vacations have been announced for educational institutes in Peshawar and some cities of Punjab on account of a spring break. He added that Sindh did not announce the vacation as there is no concept of a spring break in the province.

Furthermore, Sindh’s Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho received a coronavirus vaccine shot at a public sector hospital on Thursday.

The first dose of the Sinopham coronavirus vaccine was administered to the health minister at Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital. Dr Pechuho had earlier got herself registered at 1166 helpline for coronavirus vaccination.

In this regard, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has ruled out rumours of side-effects of the Sinopham Covid vaccine. Addressing a press conference on Thursday, the minister asked the private sector to import the Covid-19 vaccine if they want to.

She said that the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the province was recorded after the arrival of citizens from the United Kingdom. Dr Yasmin said that as many as 126 patients across the province are currently on ventilators due to Covid-19.

Commenting on the Covid-19 vaccination drive, the minister said that the biggest vaccination centre has been established at the Expo Centre in Lahore, while so far more than 100,000 health professionals and above 4,000 senior citizens have been vaccinated against the deadly virus.

“We have vaccination stock in large numbers, no need to worry,” she said.

She made it clear that parks will remain closed after 6:00 pm across the province and added that the situation has compelled them to slap restrictions in the wake of Covid-19 spread.

Meanwhile, Pakistan received 23 ultracold chain (UCC) refrigerators for Covid-19 vaccines storage on Thursday.

The 23 UCC freezers donated by the United Nations’ International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for Covid-19 vaccine storage reached Karachi via sea. The containers were donated by UNICEF to Pakistan following a grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The modern storage containers will be used for storing the Pfizer vaccines which need ultra-low temperatures up to -80 degrees centigrade. The cold chain system in Pakistan has a capacity of -20 degrees to store temperature-sensitive commodities.

The modern storage containers will be given to the Centre and provinces in most affected areas. It emerged that the containers will initially be given to the 15 most-affected cities of the country, sources said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pfizer coronavirus vaccines are likely to arrive in Pakistan during the next three months in Pakistan.

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