Pakistan registers 82 Covid-19 cases, one death in 24 hours

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has registered another 82 coronavirus infections and a single death which was reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during the last 24 hours (Friday), showed the numbers released by the National Institute of Health Pakistan on Saturday morning.

As per the latest NIH data, with the addition of one more death the toll has now increased 30,369, whereas the number of total infections now stood at 1,527,751 after adding the fresh 82 cases.

During the last 24 hours (Friday), 19,846 tests were conducted throughout Pakistan whereas the positivity ratio stood at 0.41 percent. The number of patients in critical care was further dropped to 185.

During the last 24 hours (Friday), as many as 65 patients have recovered from the virus whereas the total recoveries stood at 1,493,998. As of Saturday, the total count of active cases in the country was recorded at 3,384.

As many as 576,711 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Sindh, 505,904 in Punjab, 219,437 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 135,170 in Islamabad, 35,484 in Balochistan, 43,308 in Azad Kashmir and 11,737 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

As many as 13,560 individuals have lost their lives to the pandemic in Punjab so far, 8,101 in Sindh, 6,324 in KP, 1,023 in Islamabad, 792 in Azad Kashmir, 378 in Balochistan and 191 in Gilgit Baltistan.

UK Covid patient was positive for record 505 days

British researchers believe they have documented the longest-known Covid-19 infection, in a patient who tested positive for a total of 505 days before their death.

The previous record for persistent infection — rather than repeated bouts of Covid — is thought to be 335 days, the team from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said.

One of the study’s co-authors, consultant virologist Gaia Nebbia, said the unnamed individual was diagnosed in mid-2020 with respiratory symptoms that later improved.

But they then tested positive about 45 times before attending hospital up to their death.

Nebbia said persistent infection with SARS-CoV-2 — the virus which causes Covid-19 — has been described in patients with weakened immune systems.

She and her team studied how the virus from nine Covid patients in London changed over time, concluding that new variants may occur in immunocompromised patients.

“This is one of the hypotheses for the emergence of variants,” Nebbia told AFP.

“Regular sampling and genetic analysis of the virus showed that five of the nine patients developed at least one mutation seen in variants of concern.

“Some individuals developed multiple mutations associated with variants of concern, such as the Alpha, Delta and Omicron variants.

“However, none of the individuals in our work developed new variants that became widespread variants of concern.”

Of the nine immunocompromised patients who tested positive for at least eight weeks, infections persisted on average for 73 days.

But two patients had persistent infections for more than a year.

All the patients had weakened immune systems due to organ transplantation, HIV, cancer or other medical therapies. They were studied between March 2020 and December last year.

Of the nine, five survived. Two of the five recovered without treatment and two others recovered after antibody and antiviral therapy.

The fifth individual was still infected at their last follow-up examination in early 2022, even after treatment, and had Covid for 412 days.

Should they test positive at their next appointment, they will exceed the 505-day record, the researchers said.

Nebbia said the situation demonstrated the urgent need for new treatments to help immunocompromised patients recover.

The findings will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon, which begins on Saturday.

S.Africa Covid cases at highest level in months

South Africa is witnessing a “worrying” spike in coronavirus cases after a relative lull in new infections, official data showed Friday.

Daily official updates released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Friday showed 4,631 infections had been detected in the past 24 hours.

This is the highest number registered for almost three jumps, and a jump from an average daily of around 1,300 infections recorded last week.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla told parliament earlier Friday that the rise in infections was “worrying”.

“Over the last few days we have seen worrying signs of the rise in the level of Covid infections. We hope that this will not go much higher, but we are monitoring,” he said.

“We hope that even if there is rise, it will not be disruptive”.

More than half of the new cases reported Friday were found in the most populous province, Gauteng, where Johannesburg is situated.

Flood-hit KwaZulu-Natal province recorded the second highest number, accounting for 22 percent of the latest cases.

With a total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of more than 3,7 million, Covid has hit South Africa harder than any other country on the continent.

NICD executive director, Adrian Puren said the Omicron variant is still the dominant circulating variant.

Only one Covid death was recorded on Friday.

Early in March South Africa registered zero covid deaths, for the first time since May 2020.

Scientists have predicted a new wave will hit the country in May as the southern hemisphere winter season starts to set in.

Spanish Nobel laureate in hospital

Mario Vargas Llosa, the 2010 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has been hospitalised after contracting Covid-19, but his condition is “developing favourably,” his son said on Friday.

“A few days ago, for complications caused by coronavirus, he was admitted to a clinic in Madrid,” Alvaro Vargas Llosa wrote on Twitter.

“Thanks to treatment, his condition is developing favourably.”

“He and his family are thankful for the affection we are being shown and we ask the media to respect his privacy,” said the tweet, which was signed by the writer’s three children, Alvaro, Gonzalo and Morgana.

Born in Peru in 1936, Vargas Llosa took Spanish citizenship in 1993.

At the beginning of April, he published his latest work, “The Quiet Gaze (of Perez Galdos)”, an essay on the Spanish writer, Benito Perez Galdos (1843-1920).

Next week, he had been scheduled to attend the presentation of a biography of Miguel de Cervantes by Santiago Munoz-Machado, but the event was postponed.

The last survivor of a golden generation of Latin American literary giants, Vargas Llosa’s writing explores universal themes often set outside his native Peru.

Admired for his depiction of social realities, but criticised within Latin American intellectual circles for his conservative positions, Vargas Llosa is a leading light of the “boom” generation that included greats like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Julio Cortazar.