Amid rising Omicron cases in Pakistan, ministers urge vaccination, wearing masks

National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar (left) and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan addressing a press conference in Islamabad on January 5, 2021. — YouTube

ISLAMABAD:  Amid rising cases of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, across the country, federal ministers on Wednesday urged people to get vaccinated and revisit mask-wearing.

Major cities have started reporting hundreds of cases of the new variant, which was first detected in the country on December 13 in Karachi. 

It is pertinent to mention here that Lahore has a total of 170 Omicron cases and Islamabad 141 to date.

Addressing a press conference,  National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar said 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.

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

Umar said the major difference between South Africa — where the variant first emerged and wreaked havoc — 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, as he rejected claims 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.

People of the megacities should get jabbed as soon as possible

In a message to people living in megacities, 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% of the entire country’s cases, he said, urging people of the megacities to get jabbed as soon as possible.

‘Vaccinated people less affected by the virus’

For his part, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said 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.

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