–67 succumb to pandemic in 24 hours; positive cases cross grim 400,000 milestone
–NIH proposes rapid diagnostic test to detect virus
–Mirpur positivity rate shoots up to 20.62pc
ISLAMABAD: At least 67 people lost their lives to Covid-19 in Pakistan over the past 24 hours, the highest daily virus-related deaths in five months, the government portal keeping track of the pandemic announced.
After a peak of over 6,800 daily infections in June, the number fell to a low of 213 in August and remained below 700 for most of the last three months. Infections picked up steadily in November after educational institutes and remaining businesses, including hospitality resumed.
Pakistan is currently in the midst of a second wave of the coronavirus, having just crossed 400,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Data issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) shows the total death toll from the virus had risen to 8,091 with 2,458 fresh infections over the last 24 hours. The historical case positivity rate stands at 7.2 per cent while Monday’s rate was 6 per cent.
The highest case positivity rate was observed in Mirpur at 20.62 percent, followed by Peshawar at 19.58 per cent and Hyderabad at 19.03 per cent. Karachi recorded a positivity ratio of 13.9 per cent, Abbottabad 11.21 per cent, Multan 10.66 per cent and Rawalpindi 9.27 per cent.
Meanwhile, the forum was also briefed on the National Institute of Health (NIH)’s proposed policy to initiate Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) for the virus in hospitals nationwide, Radio Pakistan reported.
NIH Executive Director Maj Gen Dr Aamir Ikram said that all provinces had been consulted prior to devising a unified strategy in accordance with international standards. He said that authorities had availed recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other reputable groups to frame a policy that would detect the disease swiftly and under strict controls.
According to Dr Ikram, the first phase would allow all government-authorised public sector laboratories to perform the RAT tests. He said that provincial authorities had been granted the discretion to determine whether private labs could also conduct these tests, adding that this would only be permitted for labs that were already performing the RT-PCR tests.
The participants were informed private labs would have to be officially authorised by provincial or regional authorities to conduct the RAT tests to ensure their data could be accurately reflected in the official statistics.
The provinces also updated the NCOC about their views on the RAT testing, adding that necessary arrangements were underway to allow all major hospitals to participate in the testing.
The government has recently imposed fresh restrictions across the country although Prime Minister Imran Khan has, repeatedly, ruled out a sweeping quarantine, saying the nation would have to “learn to live with” the virus and take extra precautions.
The authorities have recently made wearing face masks mandatory in public spaces, banned public rallies, limited large public gatherings to 300 people, banned indoor weddings, closed shrines, cinemas, and theaters, and instructed public and private offices to adopt a work-from-home policy.
Meanwhile, a smart lockdown was imposed by the district administration in five areas of Peshawar on Tuesday. Coronavirus cases are fast increasing in the city. Deputy Commissioner Ali Asghar said that the move aims to prevent the spread of the virus.
Sectors E-VI and N-IV of Hayatabad, University Town, Park Road and Old Jamrud Road, Hayatabad Industrial Estate, and Peshawar Cantt area will be under the smart lockdown. No gatherings are allowed in these areas and congregations in mosques have been restricted to five people. All shops except pharmacies, food supplies, tandoors and general stores will remain closed.
The federal government has also closed all educational institutes from November 26 to January 10 and postponed all examinations except admissions and recruitment tests.