Covid Testing To Be Ramped Up In Karachi Amid Alarming Surge

A man wears protective mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while he walks along a road in Karachi, Pakistan January 12, 2021. REUTERS

Covid testing to be ramped up in Karachi amid alarming surge

Health minister asks NCOC to coordinate with Sindh health department, formulate strategy to contain virus

Amid an alarming rise in the coronavirus positivity rate across Sindh, especially in Karachi, the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) and the provincial health department agreed on Tuesday to increase testing to curb the infections.

The meeting between the health department and the NCOC came after the latter was directed by Health Minister Qadir Patel to approach the former and formulate a strategy to contain the virus.

“It was discussed to increase testing, contact tracing and implementation of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), especially mask wearing at all crowded places, and [during] domestic travel by air, railways or road,” a statement by the National Institute of Health (NIH) said.

Last week, the Sindh government revived non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) guidelines for Karachi to mitigate the “alarming” rise of Covid-19 infections. As per the directives issued by director general health services Sindh, the new NPIs included the wearing of masks, social distancing at public gatherings, and the reduction of passenger occupancy in public transport to 70 per cent.

Read Omicron sub-lineages can dodge immunity from past infection: study

Furthermore, checking of vaccination cards at high-risk areas such as shopping malls, shrines and gyms were also reinstated. According to the circular issued, wedding ceremonies would be limited to 300 people for indoor events and 500 persons for outdoor events.

Positivity rates across Pakistan

On Sunday, the NIH said the number of positive cases in Sindh had been steadily increasing, especially in Karachi where the positivity rate touched 21.71% — the highest in the country. This was followed by Mardan with 8.77% and Hyderabad at 8.51%. Islamabad’s positivity rate stood at 3.45%, followed by Peshawar’s at 3%.

The positivity rate stood at 2.82% in Lahore, while in Gujarat, it was recorded at 1.82%. In Rawalpindi, it stood at 1.64%.

So far, at least 12 coronavirus deaths have been reported this month.

The sub-variants of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 are accounting for most of the new cases. A member of the Scientific Task Force on Covid-19 explained that the immunity level among people was decreasing and the efficacy of vaccines, which was once 95%, had fallen to around 80-85% as the virus was continuously mutating. He added that vaccines were losing their efficacy even though they were the only protection against Covid-19

Courtesy : Express Tribune