As cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus surface, concerns of a fourth wave have grown, a strain of the virus first identified in India.

The mutation has been found in more than 80 countries since it was first detected. Experts say it spreads more easily because of mutations that make it better at latching onto cells in our bodies.

“The Delta variant is spreading across the country,” a senior official in the National Command and Operation Centre told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.

This spread comes despite the positivity ratio, which shot up to 9 percent in May, recently hovering between 2 percent and 4 percent.

Viruses constantly mutate and most changes are not concerning. But there is a worry that some variants might evolve enough to be more contagious, cause more severe illness or evade the protection that vaccines provide.

On July 13, Sindh Health Minister Azra Fazal Pechuho confirmed that 18 cases of the Delta variant have been reported in the province this month. The variant was detected in five members of a family in Karachi’s Lyari, Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Soomro has confirmed.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan also called the variant “the biggest concern,” and urged the public to follow safety precautions.

“After a downslide, infections are on the rise again. We fear that the Delta variant could strike Pakistan,” he said in a televised address. “I appeal to the nation to wear masks and take protective measures.”

Earlier, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, who heads the NCOC, said he had reviewed artificial intelligence models and that in the absence of strong enforcement of health guidelines such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, a “fourth wave could emerge in Pakistan in July.”

Due to the reluctance of some to get Covid-19 shots, the official said, authorities have banned the entry of the unvaccinated to tourist spots, hotels, movie theatres, and other picnic spots during next week’s holiday of Eidul Azha.

In response to the growing concern, the Sindh Government has decided to close schools and ban indoor dining from Friday. Karachi’s COVID-19 situation is worsening after the city’s infection rate reached 17 per cent. District East recorded a dangerous 21 per cent rise while positivity rates in District South (15 per cent), Central (12 per cent), and Korangi (8 per cent) have also increased. The COVID-19 positivity rate in Sindh has risen to 7.4 per cent.

Furthermore, schools will remain closed for classes one to eight, while students of class nine and above will only sit for their exams.

Access to picnic points and public spots along the beaches have also been disallowed for the public. The decisions were taken in the provincial Covid-19 Task Force meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday.

Pakistan successfully achieved the target of 500,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses per day, Planning Minister Asad Umar said Tuesday. The country achieved the target on Monday, said Umar, who heads the National Command and Operation Centre on coronavirus.


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