People with masks against COVID-19 travel by rickshaw in Karachi, Pakistan January 25, 2021. — Reuters/File


People with masks against COVID-19 travel by rickshaw in Karachi, Pakistan January 25, 2021. — Reuters/File
  • 19,236 diagnostic tests conducted in last 24 hours.
  • 3 more COVID-19 patients lose lives to virus.
  • 176 patients in critical condition.

A slight decline in COVID-19 cases was reported in the country over the last 24 hours, with the positivity ratio dropping to 3.15%, data from the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) showed Saturday morning.

According to the NIH, during the last 24 hours, 19,236 diagnostic tests were conducted out of which 605 came back positive.

Meanwhile, three more COVID-19 patients lost their lives to the virus.

After three more deaths, the COVID-19 death toll reached 30,486 since the start of the pandemic

As per NIH, 176 patients with COVID-19 are in critical condition and are being treated at different medical facilities across the country.

What is COVID BA.5 variant and why is it reinfecting so many people?

BA5, part of the Omicron family, is the latest coronavirus variant to cause widespread waves of infection globally.

According to the World Health Organisation’s most recent report, it was behind 52% of cases sequenced in late June, up from 37% in one week. In the United States, it is estimated to be causing around 65% of infections.

Rising case numbers

BA5 is not new. First identified in January, it has been tracked by the WHO since April.

It is a sister variant of the Omicron strain that has been dominant worldwide since the end of 2021 and has already caused spikes in case rates – even with reduced testing – in countries including South Africa, where it was first found, as well as the United Kingdom, parts of Europe, and Australia.

Coronavirus cases worldwide have now been rising for four weeks in a row, WHO data showed.

Why is it spreading?

Like its closely related sibling, BA4, BA5 is particularly good at evading the immune protection afforded either by vaccination or prior infection.

For this reason, “BA5 has a growth advantage over the other sublineages of Omicron that are circulating,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, told a news briefing on Tuesday.

For many people, this means that they are getting re-infected, often even a short time after having COVID-19. Van Kerkhove said the WHO is assessing reports of re-infections.

“We have ample evidence that people who’ve been infected with Omicron are getting infected with BA5. No question about it,” said Gregory Poland, a virologist and vaccine researcher with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.


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