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COVID claims two more lives; 693 fresh cases reported in Pakistan

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  • NIH data indicates a marginal increase in new COVID-19 cases in Pakistan.
  • 23,423 diagnostic tests were performed in the last 24 hours.
  • Positivity ratio in the last 24 hours was 2.96% across the country.

A marginal increase was witnessed on Saturday in new COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, data from the National Institute of Health, Islamabad (NIH) showed.

According to the NIH data, 23,423 diagnostic tests were performed in the last 24 hours, with 693 returning positive, indicating a 2.96% positivity ratio.

The virus claimed two more lives in the last 24 hours, bringing up the national toll to 30,464.

NIH said 180 COVID-19 patients are still being treated in intensive-care units (ICU) at various medical facilities across the country.

What is COVID BA.5 variant?

BA.5, 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.

BA.5 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, BA.4, BA.5 is particularly good at evading the immune protection afforded either by vaccination or prior infection.

For this reason, “BA.5 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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The captain of the Pakistan Shaheens’ white-ball team has been announced for the upcoming trip to Darwin.

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Mohammad Haris, a wicket-keeper batsman, has been chosen as the captain of Pakistan Shaheens for the two 50-over matches and nine-team Top End T20 series in Darwin, Australia. The matches will take place from 4-18 August.

Haris recently led Pakistan Shaheens in the ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023 in Colombo. In this tournament, Pakistan successfully defended their championship by defeating India with a margin of 128 runs.

The Pakistan Shaheens have already arrived in Darwin to play two four-day matches against Bangladesh ‘A’ on July 19-22 and July 26-29. Sahibzada Farhan is currently captaining the team in the longer format of the game.

Following the two four-day matches, the Shaheens will engage in 50-over matches against Northern Territory (NT) and Bangladesh ‘A’ on 4 and 6 August, respectively, prior to the start of the T20 series on 9 August.

The T20 competition includes additional teams such as ACT Comets, Bangladesh ‘A’, Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars, Perth Scorchers, Northern Territory Strike, Adelaide Strikers, and Tasmania.

In addition, seven modifications have been implemented for the white-ball contests compared to the red-ball side.

Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Jahandad Khan, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Imran Jnr, and Usman Khan are the replacements for Kamran Ghulam, Khurram Shahzad, Mehran Mumtaz, Mohammad Ali, Mubasir Khan, Tayyab Tahir, and Umar Amin.

The Pakistan Shaheens will participate in the Darwin series for the second consecutive year. In the previous year, NT Strike emerged victorious over Shaheens in the final of the Top End T20 Series with a margin of 46 runs. Subsequently, Pakistan Shaheens achieved a resounding victory over PNG by 224 runs and Northern Strike by 84 runs in the two One-day matches.

The white-ball squad of Pakistan Shaheens
Mohammad Haris is the captain of the team, and the other players in the squad are Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Faisal Akram, Haseebullah (who is both a wicketkeeper and a batter), Muhammad Irfan Khan, Jahandad Khan, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Imran Jnr, Omair bin Yousuf, Sahibzada Farhan, Shahnawaz Dahani, and Usman Khan.

The personnel providing support to the players include Abdul Rehman as the head coach, Mohammad Masroor as the assistant coach-cum-manager, Mohammad Asad as the physiotherapist, Imranullah as the trainer, and Usman Hashmi as the analyst.

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Explanation: The increase in inflation in the United States would cause electricity costs in Pakistan to rise.

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Electricity contracts between Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and the federal government not only involve capacity costs, but also have a significant impact on the economy and the financial well-being of the population. These contracts are closely linked to the inflation rate and the value of the US dollar.

Startling disclosures have emerged regarding the exorbitant electricity tariffs in Pakistan. The Council of Economic and Energy Journalists Sage, representing the institute, provided a briefing to leading journalists in Karachi.

According to the information provided, the electricity rate component in Pakistan experienced a 253 percent increase from 2019 to 2024 as a result of inflation in America.

The data presented in the briefing indicates that the capacity charges in Pakistan were Rs3.26 per unit in 2019 and climbed to Rs10.34 per unit in 2024.

The capacity charges imposed on the public incorporate the effects of both US inflation and domestic inflation.

Due to the rise in the country’s interest rate, the interest payment for energy has climbed by 343% during a span of four years. Over the course of four years, the working capital of IPPs caused a 716 percent increase in the cost of power per unit.

The electricity rate has increased by 12 to 20 percent, with 70 percent of the charges being capacity charges.

SDPI experts recommended the government to adopt a centralised tariff policy rather than a universal electricity tariff strategy.

The power generation capacity amounts to 23,000 megawatts.

As a result of the increase in solar power generation in the country, the capacity charges will have an additional adverse impact on the residents.

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Business

Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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