Unvaccinated people must avoid going to the northern areas: Asad Umar

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Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar speaks to the media during a press conference after stepping down from his ministry, in Islamabad on April 18, 2019. - Pakistan's finance minister Asad Umar has stepped down, he announced on April 18, with no replacement yet named as Islamabad seeks a crucial bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)

ISLAMABAD: National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) chief Asad Umar has directed those who have not been vaccinated to avoid going to the northern areas. During a media briefing in Islamabad on Friday, Umar said that caution is needed during the Eid holidays “so that your entertainment does not become the cause of someone’s death”.The NCOC chief said that those who do not get vaccinated are seven times more likely to get COVID-19 than those who get both doses. “Please get vaccinated,” he appealed. He said that the risk of catching the coronavirus is significantly reduced after vaccination and even if one gets the virus after vaccination, they will remain safe from serious illness and death. Umar said that so far, 22.1 million people have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said today that everyday around 2,500 new cases are being recorded. He warned that the Delta (Indian) variant of the virus is spreading fast and appealed to the nation to ensure they wear masks in the presence of other people. Last week, Umar had warned there are clear early signs of the fourth COVID-19 wave starting in Pakistan due to poor compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the spread of the Delta variant. Three days ago the Federal Parliamentary Health Secretary Dr Nausheen Hamid had said that the Delta variant has been found to make up 50% of the total infections in Pakistan. In Karachi, out of 163 positive cases reported on Thursday, 65 turned out to belong to the Delta variant. This has prompted the Sindh government to put a ban on indoor restaurants, amusement parks, water parks, tourists spots, cinemas, gyms and indoor games. Schools have also been shut across the province. Students of grade nine and above will appear for exams, after which schools will remain closed for them as well. The World Health Organisation estimates Delta is 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was itself around 50% more transmissible than the original Wuhan virus. That translates to Delta’s effective reproductive rate (the number of people on average a person with the virus will infect, in the absence of controls such as vaccination) being five or higher. This compares to two to three for the original strain.

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