Lahore/Quetta/Karachi/Peshawar (Staff Report/Agencies): The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rose to 1,284,365 on Monday after 176 new cases surfaced in the country during the last 24 hours.
This is the lowest daily tally in more than 1.5 years as the country last recorded less than 200 cases, 191, on April 10, 2020.
Overall 475,285 cases were confirmed in Sindh, 443,014 in Punjab, 179,961 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 33,479 in Balochistan, 107,661 in Islamabad, 10,411 in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and 34,554 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
As per the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data, 29,530 tests were conducted in last 24 hours while positivity ratio remained 0.59%.
According to the government's COVID-19 portal, the death toll related to coronavirus has reached to 28,718 with 9 fatalities reported during the last 24 hours.
Over the last twenty four hours, total number of recovered COVID-19 patients across the country reached 1,241,909 after another 148 virus recoveries were reported.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who also heads the NCOC, warned on Monday that the latest concerning variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, will inevitably come to Pakistan and the country had only a few weeks to contain its threat.
Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Umar urged the citizens to get vaccinated and complete their doses.
He said the initial information the government had received was that although Omicron was a "very dangerous" variant, vaccination will be effective against it.
The minister said that a big vaccination campaign was being started in the provinces in the next 2-3 days.
Asad Umar said aid additional measures were being taken such as increasing the number of daily tests, particularly in high-risk areas, which had previously been reduced as the positivity rate declined.
Additionally, consultation will be completed on administering booster shots to the population most at risk from the coronavirus, he said.
The minister also said that restrictions had been placed on travellers coming from abroad and further measures would be taken to delay the variant's entry into the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Faisal Sultan explained why the new variant was being treated as a "variant of concern", saying it was "clear it is spreading faster compared to previous variants".
The danger this posed, he said, was of increased pressure on the healthcare system that could potentially lead to a shortage of beds and other medical services.
The SAPM maintained that as per initial scientific reports, the genetic makeup of the variant was mutated to possibly make the virus deadlier.
“As it’s impossible to stop the virus from entering Pakistan, it was imperative to get fully vaccinated at the earliest,” he said, adding that an increase in the vaccination rate would mitigate the effects of the Omicron variant.
It is pertinent to mention that the global coronavirus cases have reportedly surpassed 261.844 million and death toll tops 5,219,583.