Pakistan witnessed on Saturday a slight increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, with the country reporting 693 positive cases in the last 24 hours, accoridng to data from the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH).
There were 23,423 diagnostic tests carried out during that time, indicating a 2.96% positivity ratio.
The virus claimed two more lives in the last 24 hours, bringing up the national toll to 30,464. 180 19 patients are in critical care at various medical facilities across the country.
There were concerns of a sixth wave in Pakistan last month, after the number of cases hit a four-month high in June.
The increase was attributed to BA.5, part of the Omicron family and 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.
BA.5 is not new. First identified in January, it has been tracked by the WHO since April.
SOPs for Muharram
Earlier this week, the NCOC has issued SOPs for religious congregations (majalis) and processions during Muharram, which begins in a little over a week.
Those attening such gatherings are required to maintain social distancing, with the guidelines advise the use of masks and sanitisers.
People above 65 years of age and children should stay away from the crowd.
The NCOC has urged people to hear the sermons through livestream. It has advised that such religious gatherings should be held in open spaces.
In cases where majalis are held indoors, ventilation must be ensured.