‘No lockdown for now,’ says NCOC chief despite rising coronavirus cases


  • NCOC chief gives his two cents on how govt plans to deal with surge in COVID-19 cases across Pakistan.
  • Says there are no plans of a lockdown, highlights need to get vaccinated instead.
  • Statement comes as Pakistan records positivity ratio over 2% for first time in over two months.

ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: The Pakistan government has no intentions of imposing a coronavirus lockdown for now, National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar said Thursday, despite the country recording a rapid surge in infections over the last two weeks.

“For now, we are closely monitoring the numbers from Pakistan and across the globe; we are emphasising on vaccinations,” the federal minister for planning, development, and special initiatives told Geo News.

He highlighted that instead of lockdowns, the government is focusing on ramping up vaccinations and strict implementation of the bans placed earlier on certain activities if one is not vaccinated. 

‘Lack of vaccination in Karachi increasing Omicron cases’

Coronavirus cases of the Omicron variant are going up in Karachi because of a lack of vaccinations, Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Rasul told Geo News Thursday.

The medic said a majority of the COVID-19 cases in Karachi are of the Omicron variant, with the Sindh Health Department’s statistics showing that the city’s positivity ratio reached 9.23% in the last 24 hours.

“Not only [is the] Omicron, but [the] Delta variant is also spreading […] and unfortunately, the vaccination ratio in Karachi stand stands at 40%,” Dr Rasul lamented.

He spoke about the sudden rise in cases over the last week and highlighted that lockdowns are dependent on the positivity ratio. If the positivity ratio continues to move up, the government will have to impose restrictions, he said.

Earlier this week, on January 3, the Sindh government had said the prevalence of the Omicron variant had reached up to 50% in the province, especially in Karachi.

Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity ratio exceeds 2%

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity ratio exceeded 2% in a single day for the first time since October 14 last year, as 1,085 new infections were detected during the last 24 hours, official data for Thursday morning showed.

On October 14, 2021, the positivity ratio stood at 2.03%. Daily infections have crossed the 1,000-mark for the first time since October 14.

As per the statistics issued by National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the new cases pushed the positivity rate to 2.32%, which is a 0.5% increase in Wednesday’s ratio, which was 1.8%.

Ministers urge vaccination, wearing masks

A day earlier, federal ministers urged Pakistanis to get vaccinated and revisit mask-wearing, as the cases of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, have started spreading rapidly in the country.

“Omicron spreads at a fast pace, but it isn’t lethal […] however, do not think that nothing will happen to you if you get infected with the Omicron variant,” National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar said.

In a message to people living in megacities, he said that from day one, the government had been informing that in heavily populated areas, coronavirus tends to spread very quickly.

In the last seven days, on average, Lahore and Karachi accounted for 60% of the entire country’s cases, he said, urging people of the megacities to get jabbed as soon as possible.

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