Islamabad (Web Desk): Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Saturday warned that the UK variant of COVID-19 is much more dangerous and contagious than the original virus.
He was briefing the media after chairing a special meeting of National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to review the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases in Punjab, Khyber Paktunkhwa (KP) and Islamabad Capital Territory.
Asad Umar said that new wave of the virus is resulting in sharp increase in cases in the entire region including Pakistan.
“In past five days number of critical patients has increased by over 1000,” he added.
The NCOC chief said that the hospitals are reaching their maximum capacity and if precautionary measures are not followed, government will have to take tough decisions.
As per a press statement issued by NCOC, the Punjab and KP chief ministers and Islamabad commissioner were invited to attend the session via video link.
The special session of the NCOC was attended by provincial chief secretaries, health secretaries and home secretaries.
The agenda included a discussion on the rising trend of COVID-19, implementation status of high impact interventions and state of critical medical facilities, including oxygenated beds, vents and other facilities.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has put public sector hospitals of the province on high alert after intensification of the third wave of COVID-19, particularly in the provincial capital where the positivity rate of the infection has reached 16%.
As per the health authorities, Lahore was at the top of the districts in the province reporting the highest infection rate, which was determined on the basis of cases reported in the last two weeks.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 649,824 on Saturday after 4,468 new coronavirus cases surfaced in the country during the last 24 hours.
Overall 264,355 cases were confirmed in Sindh, 210,095 in Punjab, 83,630 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 19,453 in Balochistan, 55,056 in Islamabad 4,990 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and 12,245 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
According to the government's COVID-19 portal, the death toll related to coronavirus has reached to 14,158 with 67 fatalities reported during the last 24 hours.
Over the last twenty four hours, total number of recovered COVID-19 patients across the country reached 593,282 after another 2,137 virus recoveries were reported.