ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health ministry on Thursday reported nine deaths from coronavirus, the highest single-day death toll since March 8, signaling a rise in the South Asian country’s cases of the infection.
After reporting a significant decline in coronavirus cases over the past couple of months, Pakistan did away with almost all coronavirus restrictions. However, in recent weeks, the country has seen a spike in COVID-19 infections.
The national COVID-19 positivity ratio rose to 3.77 percent in the last 24 hours as nine people passed away from the infection, the National Institute of Health (NIH) said on Thursday. The last time Pakistan reported nine deaths from the infection was on March 8.
Health authorities conducted 23,125 coronavirus tests in the last 24 hours, of which 872 turned out to be positive. Over 165 patients are currently in critical care across the country.
Pakistan disbanded the National Command and Operations Center, its main pandemic response body, on March 31 as infections fell to the lowest since the outbreak began in 2020.
However, on May 23, Pakistan reconstituted the NCOC at the NIH after health officials detected a new omicron sub-variant in a passenger arriving from Qatar. The new Omicron sub-variant is said to be highly infectious, though not as deadly as previous coronavirus strains.
This week, the NCOC issued fresh guidelines for Eid Al-Adha.
“Eid UI Adha prayers should be organized in open spaces under stringent COVID protocols. In case of any compulsion to offer the prayers inside mosques, then all windows and doors should be kept open for ventilation / to minimize the chances of disease spread,” the NCOC said in a statement earlier this week.
The body said up to three Eid prayers should be organized at a single venue with staggered timings to allow maximum people to offer prayers with COVID-19 protocols in place.
“All ulemas leading Eid prayers should be sensitised to keep sermons ... short so that people remain present in the prayer venues for a brief duration,” the guidelines said. “Efforts should be made to discourage sick, elderly and young children from attending Eid prayers.”
People without face masks should not be allowed to enter prayer venues, the NCOC said, adding that prayer venues should have multiple entry and exit points and venue organizers should ensure the availability of hand sanitisers.
The NCOC said efforts would be made to promote and encourage central and collective sacrifices through various public, private and community organizations, while ensuring adherence to the COVID-19 protocols of mask-wearing, social distancing and avoidance of crowds.