ISLAMABAD: Asad Umar, the head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and the Federal Minister for Planning and Development, warned that Omicron cases are on the rise and encouraged the public to take precautions and be vaccinated. Asad Umar, speaking at a news conference alongside SAPM on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan, claimed that Omicron cases are rapidly growing in Pakistan. “People should avoid crowded locations, wear a facemask, and take other precautions,” he said, citing examples from the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, where Omicron cases have resulted in a significant increase in hospitalization. He said that the only message they have for Pakistanis is to immediately receive their COVID vaccination as it could lessen the impact of the new wave led by the Omicron variant. “The positivity ratio has reached 8.1 after the emergence of Omicron cases and those living in urban centres will be hurt the most,” he said and added that 60 percent of Omicron cases are only being reported from Karachi and Lahore. Sharing an alarming trend, Asad Umar said that Karachi has witnessed a 940 percent increase in cases during the last two weeks while Punjab has seen a 185 percent increase in cases in 10 days. “This clearly points to an increase in COVID cases in the country,” he said.