Govt to launch mass testing drive to get accurate figures

ISLAMABAD – A fresh mass testing and vaccination drive is being launched by the government as a new variant of Omicron rears its head in major cities particularly in Karachi.

“A high Covid positivity ratio is being reported especially in Karachi, of a new variant of omicron virus, Minister for National Health Services, Abdul Qadir Patel told media persons on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference, he said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) was ac-tively monitoring the rise of corona cases on daily basis.

“A slight increase has been observed in the number of positive cases in the last few days,” he said. He asked the people to save their loved ones from Covid-19 by following standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The best way to avoid this new variant, he said, was observing social distance, wearing a mask, sanitis-ing, washing hands regularly and avoiding crowd and public gatherings.

The minister said a vaccination drive for children aged 5 to 11 would begin in two months and the ne-gotiations were under way with Pfizer to get 6.8 million jabs for children. These jabs would be available by end August or early September, he added.

He said the government was going to launch a mass testing campaign to get accurate figures of new cases.

Earlier, the PM Office directed the concerned authorities to implement SOPs at crowded places such as cattle markets as well as for upcoming religious events including Eid-ul-Azha and Muharram gatherings.

New Covid Cases:

According to National Institute of Health (NIH), a total of 15, 462 tests for Covid-19 and its variants were conducted during the last 24 hours, out of which 541 individuals were tested positive whereas, the coun-trywide positivity ratio is 3.50 percent. The NIH said one person died due to Covid-19 during the last 24 hours and 100 patients are in critical care. A health expert, Hasan Orooj, told The Nation that the variants were known as BA4 and BS5. This de-picted that there was a new wave of Covid-19, he said, adding, there was a surge in infection rate and number of patients reporting at OPDs and the hospitalisation.

“There is clear evidence that the rate with which this variant is spreading is much faster as compared to its predecessors,” he said. The gravity of illness caused by the new variant was less and the recovery was com-paratively faster, he claimed.

(The writer is a freelance contributor)


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