COVID-19 positivity rate nears 4% in Pakistan

A man wears protective mask maintaining social distance with others as they gather to celebrate Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Peshawar, Pakistan May 13, 2021. — Reuters/File
  • Pakistan reports 620 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours.
  • New infections push Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity ratio to 3.71%.
  • Four people succumb to COVID-19 and 588 others recover overnight.

The COVID-19 positivity ratio in Pakistan surged near to 4% in a single day as the country logged 620 new cases in the last 24 hours, the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) data showed Wednesday morning.

The new infections were detected after testing on 16,704 samples and pushed Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity ratio to 3.71% and the number of total cases to 1,551,871.

Meanwhile, 588 people recovered from COVID-19 while four others succumbed to it during the course of treatment, taking Pakistan’s coronavirus death toll to 30,474.

However, 191 people are still in critical condition, as per NIH.

After the new recoveries and deaths, the country’s active COVID-19 case count moved to 7,660 overnight.

What is COVID BA.5 variant and why is it reinfecting so many people?

BA5, part of the Omicron family, is the latest coronavirus variant to cause widespread waves of infection globally.

According to the World Health Organisation’s most recent report, it was behind 52% of cases sequenced in late June, up from 37% in one week. In the United States, it is estimated to be causing around 65% of infections.

Rising case numbers

BA5 is not new. First identified in January, it has been tracked by the WHO since April.

It is a sister variant of the Omicron strain that has been dominant worldwide since the end of 2021 and has already caused spikes in case rates – even with reduced testing – in countries including South Africa, where it was first found, as well as the United Kingdom, parts of Europe, and Australia.

Coronavirus cases worldwide have now been rising for four weeks in a row, WHO data showed.

Why is it spreading?

Like its closely related sibling, BA4, BA5 is particularly good at evading the immune protection afforded either by vaccination or prior infection.

For this reason, “BA5 has a growth advantage over the other sublineages of Omicron that are circulating,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, told a news briefing on Tuesday.

For many people, this means that they are getting re-infected, often even a short time after having COVID-19. Van Kerkhove said the WHO is assessing reports of re-infections.

“We have ample evidence that people who’ve been infected with Omicron are getting infected with BA5. No question about it,” said Gregory Poland, a virologist and vaccine researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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