Second COVID-19 wave in Pakistan: Alarm bells ringing at NCOC

ISLAMABAD: In continuation with a series of escalating warnings, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has sounded the alarm over the average positivity ratio registering 40% higher over the last four days than what was being recorded earlier.

During a morning session on Friday, officials from the NCOC — the apex body tasked with managing coronavirus in Pakistan — heard from health officials that the positivity ratio (which measures the percentage of actual coronavirus cases from total tests conducted) has increased. 

The increasing danger of a second wave of the coronavirus is also evident in the increase in hospital admissions and a spike in the number of daily deaths, the forum was told. 

“Forum noted that [it is] the fifth continuous day that positivity ratio is on the increase,” read a statement issued by the NCOC following the meeting. It also pointed out that coronavirus deaths in Pakistan are also on the rise.

“Muzaffarabad, Hyderabad, Karachi and Gilgit have a higher positivity ratio along with other areas across the country,” observed the NCOC.

It noted that hospital admissions were also on the rise across the country, particularly in Punjab. The NCOC was also informed that has been a marked increase in the number of critical patients being admitted to hospitals as well.

The NCOC was told that the country’s current case fatality rate has reached 2.06%, compared to the global rate which stands at 2.72%. It was also noted that 71% of total deaths are of males, out of which 76% have been over the age of 50.

The forum was also briefed by the Punjab chief secretary regarding the increasing figures in the province.

He told the NCOC that Punjab’s death ratio was 1.6% on September 1, but currently stood at 6% — a stark increase. He also added that the positivity ratio in the province has also increased from 0.92% to 1.33% currently. 

Positivity rate spikes to 2.58%, highest in two months

A day earlier, it was reported that Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity rate had reached to 2.58% on October 21, its highest in over two months.

According to the official tally, of the 28,534 tests sampled on Wednesday, 736 returned positive.

To date, Pakistan has officially reported a total of 324,744 coronavirus cases and 6,692 deaths nationwide.

Government officials have expressed concern about the rising positivity ratio in the country, even though it is still below the 5% threshold set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Asad Umar, the minister for planning and development, had called recent trends “ when the positivity ratio hit 2.37% on October 15.

On Wednesday this week, the positivity percentage ha further climbed to 2.58%. The last time Pakistan reported a percentage higher than this was on August 19 at 2.68%.

Over the preceding three days, Pakistan had been reporting deaths in double digits every day, unlike in September when the death toll stayed largely in single digits.