ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: Despite a fast increase in illnesses over the previous two weeks, Pakistan’s government has no plans to impose a coronavirus lockdown, according to Asad Umar, the head of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC). “For the time being, we’re keeping a close eye on the data coming out of Pakistan and around the world; we’re focusing on vaccinations,” the federal minister for planning, development, and special initiatives said. He highlighted that instead of lockdowns, the government is focusing on ramping up vaccinations and strict implementation of the bans placed earlier on certain activities if one is not vaccinated. ‘Lack of vaccination in Karachi increasing Omicron cases’ Coronavirus cases of the Omicron variant are going up in Karachi because of a lack of vaccinations, Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Shahid Rasul told on Thursday. The medic said a majority of the COVID-19 cases in Karachi are of the Omicron variant, with the Sindh Health Department’s statistics showing that the city’s positivity ratio reached 9.23% in the last 24 hours. “Not only [is the] Omicron, but [the] Delta variant is also spreading […] and unfortunately, the vaccination ratio in Karachi stand stands at 40%,” Dr Rasul lamented. He spoke about the sudden rise in cases over the last week and highlighted that lockdowns are dependent on the positivity ratio. If the positivity ratio continues to move up, the government will have to impose restrictions, he said. Earlier this week, on January 3, the Sindh government had said the prevalence of the Omicron variant had reached up to 50% in the province, especially in Karachi. Pakistan’s COVID-19 positivity ratio exceeds 2% Meanwhile, Pakistan’s coronavirus positivity ratio exceeded 2% in a single day for the first time since October 14 last year, as 1,085 new infections were detected during the last 24 hours, official data for Thursday morning showed. On October 14, 2021, the positivity ratio stood at 2.03%. Daily infections have crossed the 1,000-mark for the first time since October 14. As per the statistics issued by National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the new cases pushed the positivity rate to 2.32%, which is a 0.5% increase in Wednesday’s ratio, which was 1.8%. Ministers urge vaccination, wearing masks A day earlier, federal ministers urged Pakistanis to get vaccinated and revisit mask-wearing, as the cases of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, have started spreading rapidly in the country. “Omicron spreads at a fast pace, but it isn’t lethal […] however, do not think that nothing will happen to you if you get infected with the Omicron variant,” National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) chief Asad Umar said. He stated in a message to people living in megacities that the government had warned them from the start that coronavirus spreads swiftly in densely populated regions. Lahore and Karachi, on average, accounted for 60% of the country’s infections in the last seven days, he said, asking residents of the megacities to get vaccinated as soon as possible.