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‘No lockdown in offing’ despite Covid surge



ISLAMABAD/
KARACHI:

The federal government as well as the Sindh government dispelled on Thursday any impression that they were resorting to Covid-induced lockdown, despite a surge in the single-day tally of new cases, which topped 1,000 for the first time since mid-October.

Planning Minister Asad Umar said the government was not planning any lockdown “for now” in the wake of the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus. A spokesperson for the Sindh Health Department also denied any plans for closing offices and schools in the province.

Umar who heads the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) – the nerve centre of the government’s anti-pandemic strategy told a private TV channel that the authorities were currently focused on vaccination to contain the virus spread.

Read more: President Arif Alvi tests positive for Covid-19 again

“For now, we are closely monitoring the numbers from Pakistan and across the globe; we are emphasising on vaccinations,” Umar said. “Instead of lockdowns, the government is focusing on ramping up vaccinations and strict implementation of the restrictions imposed earlier on certain activities.”

The Sindh Health Department said on the social networking sites that false rumours of lockdown were being spread. The spokesperson admitted that Omicron cases had increased, but the health department had not recommended a complete lockdown.

Talking to reporters in Hyderabad, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho put the number of Omicron cases in the province at more than 170. However, hours later, a statement from the Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah revealed that the number had risen to 268.

Read Omicron feared to loom within mosques

Dr Pechuho has said that any decision regarding the lockdown would be taken in view of the number of patients in hospitals. She stressed that vaccination and wearing of facemasks in schools would help control the spread of the infectious disease.

The country has seen a gradual increase in the Covid cases since last week of December. According to the NCOC daily update of the pandemic, 1,085 new infections were detected during the last 24 hours – the highest tally since October 14, 2021, when 1,086 infections were reported.

The national positivity ratio also surged past 2% also for the first time since October 14. As per the NCOC statistics the 2.32% ratio during the last 24 hours showed a 0.5% increase over Wednesday’s ratio of 1.8%.

(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)



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