Coronavirus violations blamed for Pakistan death rise

A resident walks past a closed restaurant after been sealed by authorities for violating COVID-19 prevention guidelines in Karachi on Oct. 2, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Coronavirus violations blamed for Pakistan death rise

  • Pakistan’s big cities could face a second wave of COVID-19 in the coming weeks because of increasing pollution in winter

ISLAMABAD: A Cabinet minister says Pakistan has witnessed a 140 percent increase in fatalities from COVID-19 in recent weeks due to widespread violations of social distancing rules.
Asad Umar, the planning and development minister who oversees Pakistan’s response to coronavirus, warned on Twitter “We will lose both lives and livelihoods” if people did not adhere to social distancing rules.
His comments Tuesday came shortly after the military-backed Command and Operations Center reported 14 deaths and 625 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned on Monday that Pakistan’s big cities could face a second wave of COVID-19 in the coming weeks because of increasing pollution in winter. Pakistan has reported 324,084 cases, including 6,673 COVID-19 deaths.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.