Omicron spreading like wildfire in Karachi: experts


A representative image.
A representative image.

KARACHI: An exponential increase in Covid-19 cases is being witnessed in Sindh, especially Karachi, where 321 people were found infected with SARS-CoV-2 or coronavirus, indicating the start of the fifth wave of the pandemic from the port city.

However, no death was observed during the last 24 hours in the province, federal health officials said on Sunday.“As many as 403 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Sindh in the last 24 hours, of which 321 were from Karachi.

Covid-19 positivity rate in Karachi has touched 6 percent while in Sindh over 75 percent cases are from Karachi, which is probably due to community transmission of Omicron variant of the Covid-19,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) told The News.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar also hinted at the start of the fifth wave of Covid-19 in the country, which has been initiated from Karachi, and called for taking preventive measures by citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Clear evidence now of a beginning of another Covid wave which has been expected for last few weeks. Genome sequencing showing rising proportion of omicron cases particularly in Karachi. Remember: wearing a mask is your best protection,” Asad Umar said in his tweet on Sunday morning.

NHS officials said they were fearing the start of fifth wave of Covid-19 from Karachi after emergence of the first case of Omicron variant from the port city, saying due to low vaccination rate in Karachi, where only 40 percent people are vaccinated, the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire.

According to them, Lahore is next in the list where cases are expected to rise after Karachi as vaccination rate is also only 50 percent in the eligible population while Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are also very relaxed in both the cities.

“Cases will also increase in Islamabad but as compared to Karachi and Lahore, Islamabad is 80 percent vaccinated while SOPs are more adhered to in the capital as compared to Karachi and Lahore”, the official added.

Eminent infectious diseases expert Dr. Faisal Mehmood from the Aga Khan University Hospital said it was the right time that strict measures are taken and enforcement of SOPs is implemented in Karachi to prevent the spread of Covid-19. He said an exponential rise in Covid-19 has started and it can put extraordinary pressure on hospitals.

“No doubt that cases have started rising in Karachi and one of the reasons is the Omicron variant. The other is pretty relaxed SOPs while the vaccination rate is also low in Karachi”, Dr. Faisal Mehmood said adding that if immediate measures were not taken to contain the disease, if would definitely put pressure on the hospitals.

“This is the right time to take strict measures to contain the spread of Omicron variant or it would be too late. Once it starts spreading, it would be hard to control,” Dr. Faisal Mehmood warned and added that there would definitely be pressure and an increase in the number of hospitalizations in Karachi in the weeks ahead.

Sindh Health Department officials said the Sindh chief minister and health department are likely to review the situation and discuss the overall spread of Covid-19 with experts on Monday or Tuesday after an exponential rise in cases. They said 403 new cases had emerged in Sindh when 14,555 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, adding that 321 cases were from Karachi.

They maintained that currently 5,857 patients were under treatment; of them 5,677 were in home isolation, 40 at isolation centers and 140 at different hospitals. Condition of 136 patients was stated to be critical, including 15 shifted to ventilators.

Of the 321 cases from Karachi, 163 were from South Karachi, East Karachi 100, Central Karachi 16, Dadu 15, Malir and Korangi 14 each, West Karachi 11, Matiari, Tando Allahyar and Tando Mohammad Khan seven each, Hyderabad and Jamshoro six each, Tharparkar, Sanghar, Shikarpur and Ghotki 4 each, Umarkot, Larkano and Jacobabad 3 each and from Mirpurkhas and Sukkur two each new Covid cases were reported.

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