Pakistan records huge jump in infections during last 24 hours

Written by The Frontier Post

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: All the indicators have picked up pace as the latest wave of coronavirus pandemic kept worsening day by day and Pakistan has recorded a huge jump in infections during the last 24 hours (Friday), on Saturday.

According to the statistics issued by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Saturday morning, Pakistan has listed 818 coronavirus infections and four deaths during the last 24 hours (Thursday) with Karachi emerging as the most affected city which reported 528 Covid-19 cases with infectivity rate stood at 17.06 percent.

As per the NIH data, the death toll in Pakistan has soared to 30,399 after adding the four fatalities whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,537,297 after adding the fresh 818 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Friday), 18,305 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at massive 4.47 percent. The number of patients in critical care was recorded at 126.

Sindh govt in action

Facing a grim task in the face of fast-spreading coronavirus, the Sindh government has sprung into action against Covid-19 resurgence. The home department issued directives to adopt protective measures to stem the spread of the deadly virus under the Sindh Epidemic Diseases Act 2014, making mask-wearing mandatory.

The Education Department and the Sindh Secretariat have also issued instructions to all persons to wear masks and followed the protective measures.

Facemasks return in Punjab

The Punjab government has also banned entry into government offices including of Chief Minister’s House of any person not wearing facemask.

Covid infections jump by half a million in UK

Covid infections are rising again across the UK, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed. An estimated 2.3 million people or one in 30 has the virus – a rise of 32% on the week before.

The rise is being driven by two new fast-spreading sub-variants of Omicron – called BA.4 and BA.5.

People can be infected even if they’ve had Covid before, but jabs are helping to protect against serious illness.

Health officials are urging anyone over 75 who has not had a vaccine or booster in the past six months, to get one.

Sarah Crofts, from the ONS, said: “Across the UK we’ve seen a continued increase of over half a million infections, likely caused by the growth of BA.4 and BA.5 variants.”

In its analysis of England, it found infections were going up in all regions and in all age groups.

In Scotland, which has had the highest Covid rates in the UK since the end of May, the rise in infections may be slowing slightly.

What’s happening in hospitals?

In England, almost 9,000 hospital beds were taken up with Covid patients on 30 June – and that number has doubled since the start of the month.

Data from the other UK nations is not as up-to-date but suggests a similar rise over the last month.

The number of Covid patients in hospital is currently still way below the record high of more than 34,000 in January 2021, during the wave of the Alpha variant of coronavirus.

Not all hospital patients testing positive for Covid are being treated for it – some are there for another reason, but it can make their care more difficult.

This applies to about two-thirds of patients in hospital at the moment.

The number of Covid patients in intensive care has reached 211 in England, which is an increase from 111 at the start of June.

Back in January 2021, more than 3,700 people needed this type of care at a time where intensive care units were in danger of being overwhelmed.

Health officials are advising anyone aged over 75 who hasn’t had a vaccine in the past six months, to get a booster jab to help protect against becoming seriously ill with Covid and ending up in hospital.

About 16% of that age group haven’t yet taken up the offer, says Dr Mary Ramsay, director of clinical programmes, from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Covid air war being lost, experts warn, urging mass ventilation

The world is still not using one of its most effective weapons against Covid — properly ventilating public spaces — more than two years into the pandemic, experts warn.

At the moment there is a “fragile, armed peace” with Covid-19, said Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva.

“In the hopes of stemming the tide of the pandemic and reducing mortality, we need to reduce the level of contamination, which the vaccine cannot do alone,” he told AFP.

“We need a new phase — improving the quality of indoor air.”

Covid-19 is primarily transmitted through the air. It is carried in large droplets or fine aerosols when an infected person breathes — and even more so when they talk, sing or shout.

In a closed off or poorly ventilated room, these aerosols can remain in the air for some time, moving around the space and greatly increasing the risk of infection.

While it is generally accepted that Covid can be transmitted within two metres (6.5 feet) via both droplets and aerosols, there is still no consensus on the importance of long-distance airborne transmission indoors.

A team of researchers from the UK Health Security Agency and the University of Bristol reviewed 18 studies in several countries on airborne transmission.

In research published in the BMJ this week, they found that people can infect each other when they are more than two metres apart.

– Open that window –

We know one thing for sure: if you open a window, or well-ventilate a space, the virus-carrying aerosols dissipate like smoke.

But experts say that nowhere near enough is being done to ventilate public and private spaces across the world.

“On the whole, this is an issue that governments have not yet taken up,” Flahault said.

He called for massively increased funding to ventilate many public spaces, starting with schools, hospitals, public transport, offices, bars and restaurants.

“Just as we knew to filter and treat drinking water” in homes at the beginning of the 1900s, “one can imagine some households will equip themselves with air purifiers and consider opening their windows,” Flahault said.

Only a few countries have announced ventilation plans since the start of the pandemic.

In March the US government called on all building owners and operators, as well as schools and universities, to “adopt key strategies to improve indoor air quality”.

The plan, dubbed the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, is covered by previously announced Covid funding and also includes a review of existing ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems. 

The European Union has not issued any binding statements on improving air quality in light of Covid.

However Belgium has announced a plan to have a carbon dioxide meter situated in all places open to the public. Having such a meter is voluntary until the end of 2024, when it becomes mandatory.

Stephen Griffin of the School of Medicine at Britain’s University of Leeds lamented that the UK had not acted more on ventilation.

“Sadly, the UK has not embraced the opportunity to safeguard its citizens in public spaces, its children in schools, or the longevity of the vaccination programme in this way,” he told the Science Media Centre.

He said that setting minimum safety standards for ventilation in public buildings would also “greatly mitigate the impact of other diseases”.

“Better ventilation also improves cognition by reducing carbon dioxide levels and, along with filtration, can reduce the impact of pollen and other allergies.”

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