ISLAMABAD: Pakistan registered more than 4,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the first time since August 25 as the fifth wave of the pandemic picked up speed.
According to the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), the nation added 4,286 new cases over the past 24 hours, compared to 3,567 it registered Thursday.
Meanwhile, the contagion rate also surged to 8.16 percent, the highest since August 11, when 52,522 tests were conducted.
The total caseload of the infected climbed to 1.32 million across the country, said the NCOC, the department leading the campaign against the pandemic.
Sindh has been the worst hit, with a total of 497,153 cases, followed by Punjab where the virus was detected in 451,408 people.
The positivity rate in Karachi reached 35.3 percent, prompting Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to convene a meeting of the provincial task force.
Sharing a report on the Covid-19 situation in the province, Shah Friday said 23 of 24 samples tested in Karachi for the Omicron variant were infected by the latest mutant.
The samples were analysed through Next Genome Sequencing and Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) at Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH).
Shah said that so far, 430 infections of the latest coronavirus variant have been detected in Karachi.
Citing officials from the Ministry of National Health Services, Geo News reported the contagion rate in the port city might hit 50 percent, further burdening the fragile provincial healthcare apparatus.
Meanwhile, a total of 29,003 people died of Covid-19, including four who lost their lives to the virus over the last 24 hours, the NCOC said.
Over the last 24 hours, 2,598 patients have recovered from Covid-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1.26 million, said the NCOC.
BAN ON INFLIGHT MEALS AND SNACKS:
Meanwhile, the NCOC imposed a complete ban on serving snacks and meals in flights from January 17, directing the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure wearing of masks during flights and implement Covid-19 standard operating procedures at all airports.
The ban on snacks and meals will also apply on public transport from Monday.
UNIVERSAL VACCINE DISTRIBUTION ONLY WAY TO END COVID:
The production and universal distribution of vaccines are the only response to the mutating coronavirus amid the health crisis, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday.
Pakistan assumed chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China, a coalition of more than 130 developing nations, for the year 2022 on Friday.
Addressing a virtual handover ceremony of the chairmanship to Pakistan, the foreign minister said the world is still battling the vicious virus which has taken a massive human, economic, social and psychological toll.
He said the world is facing a triple crisis: the Covid-19 pandemic, the related economic downturn and the threat posed by climate change.
Qureshi said the pandemic has affected developing countries disproportionately. Due to weak health systems and meagre resources, millions in the developing world have suffered enormously and mostly in silence, he added.
He said that over 20 countries are food insecure and some are getting stalked by famine, especially in conflict zones in Africa and Afghanistan.
To address the contemporary challenges being faced by the world, the foreign minister said the survival of humanity requires the adoption of mutual support, solidarity and unity.