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ISLAMABAD: The government, Wednesday, while urging the people to get fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 in a bid to reduce the risk of the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus, has warned that the variant is spreading more rapidly than other variants.

Addressing a press conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on the Ministry of National Health, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Chief Asad Umar said that vaccination and wearing-mask were only remedies to check the spread of Omicron variant of the Covid-19.

He said that major cities had started reporting hundreds of cases of the new variant, which was first detected in the country on December 13 in Karachi. Lahore has a total of 170 Omicron cases and Islamabad 141 to date.

He informed that in Pakistan, 60 percent cases were reported from two major cities-Karachi and Lahore.

“During the last two weeks, the virus spread at a pace of 66 percent in Sindh province overall, while it spread by 984 percent in Karachi alone,” he said, adding the spread ratio in Punjab was recorded at 190 percent in one week.

However, he said this is just the beginning in Pakistan that would spread more quickly in the coming days.

“Omicron spreads at a fast pace, but it isn’t lethal as other variants were however, do not think that nothing will happen to you if you get infected with the Omicron variant,” Umar said.

He added that in the United States and the United Kingdom, the variant was not proving to be as lethal as previous ones, as their vaccination rate was high.

The NCOC chief said that in South Africa number of Omicron cases increased by 3,500 percent from 116 to 25,000 within four weeks, while the number of patients hospitalised rose by 700 percent in the same period.

“In the United States, after Omicron was detected, the cases rose by 400 percent and the hospitalised went up by 92 percent. In the United Kingdom, cases moved up by almost 300 percent and hospitalised 134 percent.”

He said the major difference between South Africa, the origin of the omicron variant and the other two countries was that their rate of vaccination was much higher.

“So to save yourselves from coronavirus get vaccinated,” the federal minister said, while dispelling the rumors that vaccines do not work against Omicron.

The federal minister said children under 14 years also got infected with the virus and urged that they should be vaccinated as well.

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 percent of the entire country’s cases, he said, urging the people of the mega cities to get the jab as soon as possible.

Speaking on the occasion, SAPM on National Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the NCOC’s data showed that the people who were vaccinated were less affected by the virus.

“Vaccines are protecting everyone; the vaccines that are approved by the government are working well against the Omicron variant,” he said.

According to the statistics issued by the NCOC, the Covid-19 positivity ratio has jumped to 1.8 percent in the past 24 hours, as the country reported 898 new Covid-19 infections by conducting 49,673 tests.

The detection of 898 cases in the country is the highest number since October 14, 2021, when countrywide a total 1,086 cases were reported.

According to the NCOC, Pakistan, on Wednesday, reported five more patients’ deaths, taking the national coronavirus death tally to 28,950.

Moreover, 245 patients recovered in the past 24 hours, which took the nationwide recoveries to 1,257,600 since the pandemic outbreak.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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