The country recorded more than 200 Covid-19 deaths in a day for the first time since the pandemic started 14 months ago, as the third wave of coronavirus infection continued to intensify, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) reported on Wednesday.
With 201 new deaths, the country’s overall death toll from the virus rose to 17,530, the NCOC, which oversees the government’s pandemic response, said in its daily bulletin. The previous highest daily death count was 157 recorded on April 23.
A total of 5,292 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the total cases to 810,231. The national positivity ratio, the number of infections among those tested, was 10.8%. The data indicated that the death rate also hit the highest point so far – around 2.2%.
As of Wednesday, the national tally of active Covid-19 cases reached 88,207, including 6,286 patients being treated in 631 hospitals, where more than 70% of ventilators and oxygenated beds were occupied, according to the NCOC.
The NCOC said that 177 deaths occurred in hospitals in the last 24 hours, including 84 on ventilators. Most of the deaths in past 24 hours occurred in Punjab, where 177 patients breathed their last, followed by 45 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“An unfortunate day in Pakistan - 201 deaths due to COVID-19 in 24 hours. This is a maximum number of deaths in a day since the beginning of the disease,” Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said in a tweet.
Dr Sultan, the de facto health minister, expressed his regret at the flouting of coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the people. “If we act responsibly we can prevent and minimise this loss. But people are still not observing SOPs!! Very unfortunate,” he tweeted further.
Coronavirus first emerged in the country in February 2020. The first wave of the pandemic started ebbing after seeing its peak in June but the cases surged again towards the end of the year, dubbed by the experts as the second wave.
However, a fast spreading the deadlier third wave emerged in the first week of March and soon the single-day tally of new cases crossed 5,000 while the number of fatalities topped 100. In the first year, the country witnessed nearly 580,000 cases but the last two months’ tally is around 233,000.
The government has taken several measures to contain the pandemic spread, including deployment of army soldiers in 16 cities, where the positivity ratio is alarming. The government has launched a nationwide vaccination drive for immunisation against the infection.
Planning Minister Asad Umar, who heads the NCOC, said on Wednesday that the country crossed the 100,000 Covid-19 vaccination mark in a single day, in a first since the inoculation drive began. The single-day vaccination tally takes the total number of vaccinations to over 2.1 million.
“Daily vaccinations crossed 1 lakh in a day for the first time yesterday. Total vaccinations yesterday were 117,852. Total vaccinations so far now 2.1 million. Good to see more people registering. Please encourage all those 40 and above to register, if they have not done so far,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have said that the development of vaccine will begin in Pakistan from next month. In this regard, they added, a team of Chinese experts was present in Islamabad while raw material for CanSino vaccine will also reach Pakistan in May.
Separately, Umar urged the business community to ensure strict implementation of the SOPs in markets and commercial areas in order to curb the pandemic. “The third wave of Covid-19 has spread to a dangerous level,” he warned.
“This situation demands that the business community should play a role in strict compliance with the SOPs in business areas in order to control its further outbreak,” the minister added. “Reduction in coronavirus cases will also help the government to consider easing restrictions on businesses.”
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)