The government portal keeping track of the disease posted 105 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the highest toll since the first wave in June

105 fatalities of coronavirus as 2,731 new cases emerge. Dr Faisal says vaccine no excuse to disregard SOPs

The number of daily deaths from coronavirus-related complications crossed the grim milestone of 100 for the first time in five months with the contagious disease spreading fast in Karachi.

The government portal keeping track of the disease in Pakistan posted 105 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day toll since the peak of the first wave in June, taking the death toll to 9,010 since February when the country reported its first coronavirus infection.

The portal reported 2,731 new cases after conducting 38,028 tests — a positivity ratio of 7.18 per cent. The new infections increased the coronavirus total to 445,977.

According to the nationwide breakdown, Punjab recorded 535 new infections, taking the provincial caseload to 128,673. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan posted 466 and 25 new infections respectively while Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) collectively reported 185 new cases.

The positivity rate was recorded at 14.8 per cent in Sindh, 11.3 per cent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 5 per cent in AJK, 4.9 per cent in Balochistan, 3.2 per cent in Punjab and 1.6 per cent in GB.

Karachi has been especially hard hit with a daily positivity rate of 18.76 per cent. It stood at 16.56 per cent in Hyderabad, 15.99 per cent in Peshawar, 6.15 per cent in Rawalpindi, 5.8 per cent in Quetta, 5.31 per cent in Mirpur, 3.8 per cent in Abbottabad, 3.46 per cent in Swat, 2.94 per cent in Islamabad, 2.71 per cent in Multan, 2.67 per cent in Faisalabad, 1.8 per cent in Muzaffarabad and 1.45 per cent in Gilgit.

Despite an intense second wave, the country has yet to utilise its full testing capacity of 75,303, with daily testing significantly below numbers proposed by global health experts.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the government’s testing policies likely only record the most symptomatic patients while ignoring the spread among asymptomatic carriers, which studies suggest comprise the majority of infections nationwide.

Despite repeated requests from the government, most citizens appear to still not adhere to social distancing rules, causing a fresh surge in the country that until recently had kept coronavirus deaths in double digits.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Science and Technology Chairman Dr Attaur Rehman has said a vaccine for the coronavirus would be available in Pakistan in the next two months.

He reiterated that the first priority would be given to healthcare workers, adding that the process to vaccinate the entire population would take some time due to a large population.

Separately, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Wednesday said that the invention of a Covid-19 vaccine is no reason to stop following the guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

While addressing a press conference after a meeting of health ministers and provincial representative, the SAOM said that the government is committed to obtaining the vaccine and that the ministers and representatives have been briefed on the vaccine strategy.

“The federal government will make it possible for an effective vaccine to be available in the country,” he said, adding that several steps were already taken in this regard.

He added that the government would soon clarify which vaccines would be available, but reminded everyone to follow the SOPs, including wearing face masks, avoiding crowded places, keeping one’s hands clean, make sure that rooms are well ventilated, and maintaining a social distance of six feet at least.

Originally Published at Pakistan Today