While the Pakistanis are prepping up to hold gatherings and processions during the festival of Muharram, the surge in COVID-19 positivity rate in the country is on an upward trajectory.
On Sunday, the country reported three more deaths due to the virus, after two deaths were reported earlier in 24 hours, Geo News reported.
The data of the National Institute of Health, (NIH) Islamabad showed that during the last 24 hours, 628 new cases of COVID-19 were reported.
"COVID-19 Statistics 08 August 2022 Total Tests in Last 24 Hours: 19,451 Positive Cases: 628 Positivity pc: 3.23 pc Deaths: 3 Patients on Critical Care: 163," the NIH said in a statement.
At least 19,451 diagnostic tests were conducted during the last 24 hours.
The NIH data showed that the positivity ratio was recorded at 3.23 per cent with three more deaths overnight. 163 COVID-19 patients are admitted to intensive-care units (ICU) and are being treated at different medical facilities across the country, NIH said.
Amid the potential risk of an outbreak, NIH has restricted the elderly and children from attending the gatherings and majalis during Ashura and released guidelines for holding gatherings and processions, Geo News reported.
It said, in the guidelines that COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures i.e mask-wearing, social distancing and use of sanitisers/ hand washing should be adhered to, and that the organising committees should make arrangements for all SOPs during the events.
The NIH also encouraged the elderly and children to attend the event on online mode from their homes.
The novel coronavirus has affected 19,942 medics in Pakistan so far, said sources.
According to sources within the National Institute of Health (NIH), as many as 175 health workers have died across the country during the pandemic.
The sources said that so far 12,358 doctors, 2,687 nurses, and 4,897 other health staffers have been infected by COVID-19 in the country. They said 19,763 have so far recovered from the infection in Pakistan.
Notably, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said he was worried that coronavirus case numbers were shooting up, putting more strain on health systems and workers.
Experts said that the two sub-variants of the Omicron variant, namely BA.4 and BA.5, are responsible for the spread of COVID-19. They said that these variants have escaped mutations that are giving them an edge.
According to the World Health Organization's most recent report, it was behind 52 per cent of cases sequenced in late June, up from 37 per cent in one week. In the United States, it is estimated to be causing around 65 per cent of infections.
Experts also said that the sub-variants have also been infecting people who are already vaccinated or have already been infected with COVD-19, but no evidence is available to show if they are causing any severe disease among the vaccinated people, Geo News reported.
According to the website, BA.5, which is an omicron variant, is particularly good at evading the immune protection afforded either by vaccination or prior infection.
For this reason, "BA5 has a growth advantage over the other sublineages of Omicron that are circulating," Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, said as quoted by Geo News. (ANI)