Pakistan braces for 5th Covid-19 wave
Pakistan has entered the feared and predicted fifth wave of Covid-19 with the new variant Omicron contributing to the surge in positive cases, says Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan.
From November 15 to December the positivity rate was below 1% (around 0.7, 0.8) but in the last four days it has risen and according to statistics from Sunday, it is at 1.5%, he said while talking to SAMAA TV's morning show Naya Din.
"The rate is not too high but it is an alarming situation for Pakistan because there is no doubt that the fifth wave has started and it is directly linked with the new variant Omicron," he said.
The experts had warned that there was clear evidence of the beginning of another wave in Pakistan.
Dr Sultan said Karachi was the most affected by Omicron cases but they were being also reported across the country.
The range of Omicron symptoms is the same as those of other variants Delta, Alpha, Beta and Eta. Here are some indications you are Omicron positive.
People should protect themselves by wearing masks and get vaccinated because most of the cases are of unvaccinated people, he said.
Some people talk about their personal experiences and say that they have experienced mild symptoms, said Dr Faisal. But he said it is ill-advised to go on what they are saying; only when more cases come forward will we know more about this variant. Do not been taken in to assume everyone will experience the same "mild" symptoms.
Booster shots are now available for the age of 30 years and above today.
Dr Sultan said across the globe it has been decided that booster shots are for above 50 years, those who have weak immune systems and people who are vaccinated before six months.
Meanwhile, more than 100 Omicron cases have been recorded so far. Most of these cases are in Karachi or in people who had recent travel history to the city.
Earlier this week, the Sindh government imposed a micro smart lockdown in Gulshan-e-Iqbal after 12 people of a family tested positive in Block 7. Gatherings and events have been restricted in the area.
According to experts, Omicron spreads four times faster than the Delta variant which overwhelmed the health system of India and other countries in 2021.
Epidemiologist Dr Rana Jawad Asghar told Samaa Digital that the Omicron variant spreads four times faster than the Delta variant of Covid-19. Cold weather enables Covid-19 to spread because people spend most of their time in closed spaces.
People should ensure ventilation at homes and offices, wear masks and avoid crowds, he stressed.
The World Health Organization has warned that with an increased growth rate Omicron can overwhelm health systems.
Dr Asghar is not the only expert to warn about a new Covid-19 wave. Health experts in the past few days have cautioned that cases could peak in January if people failed to follow the SOPs.