Third Covid-19 wave has begun: Asad Umar

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Islamabad – Rana Talha Akhtar:

Chief of the National Command and Operations Centre Asad Umar has issued a grim warning: the third coronavirus wave has begun in Pakistan.

The planning minister said: “Yes, absolutely. There is no doubt that the third wave has begun. Basically, the phenomena driving it is the spread of the UK strain.”

Umar said that the districts where there was higher positivity ratio had a high number of Pakistanis living in the UK.

“We had genome sequencing done from NIH (National Institute of Health) and the dominant strain is the UK strain,” said the minister.

He said the UK strain was already known to transmit more easily and so spreads faster, compared to the original, Wuhan strain.

“And now with a new report we have also found that the mortality rate is higher,” he added.

Umar said that since Pakistan’s first death in March last year and until now in 2021, “our fatality rate saw a clear and sustained increase and we had speculated that it may be linked to this strain but now the international report establishes it”.

“So this is a very dangerous situation that is developing.”

The minister said that in the region in general as well, there is a rapid spread that is being witnessed.

Umar said sampling done to determine the proportion of cases that can be attributed to the new strain showed that more than half of the cases are of the UK variant, while in certain cities, the number goes as high as two-thirds of all cases.

Current situation in Pakistan

Pakistan crossed the 600,000 mark on Friday after 2,701 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.

The daily data issued by the NCOC showed that Pakistan reported 2,701 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the countrywide tally of positive cases to 600,198.

A breakdown of the data showed that out of the 600,198 cases, 10,816 were reported in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, 19,171 in Balochistan, 4,959 in Gilgit Baltistan, 46,963 in Islamabad, 75,052 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 182,576 in Punjab and 260,661 in Sindh.

The rise in the number of cases is alarming for policy makers since it was only a month ago when Pakistan had crossed the 500,000 mark.

On the other hand, the total active coronavirus cases stand at 18,703, while 568,065 people have recovered in Pakistan.

As for mortalities, the NCOC said that 54 new deaths were also recorded in Pakistan in the last 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally of coronavirus-related deaths to 13,430.

Out of the total, Sindh has reported 4,452 deaths, Punjab has reported 5,698, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has reported 2,138, Islamabad has 520 deaths, Balochistan has 202, Gilgit Baltistan has 103 deaths and Azad Jammu and Kashmir has 317 deaths.