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Pakistan reports lowest daily COVID death toll in almost three months 

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 767 cases of coronavirus were reported while 19 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 28,106. 

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Pakistan reports lowest daily COVID death toll in almost three months 
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Islamabad: Pakistan has reported its lowest daily coronavirus death toll in almost three months, with 19 people losing their lives to the virus in the last 24 hours. 

Amid a steady decline in Covid-19 infections, Pakistan's coronavirus positivity ratio further fell to 1.88% with 767 new cases.

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves.

The total number of cases has reached 1,257,955.

As many as 1,187,308 patients have recovered from the disease with 2,540 critical cases.

Punjab

The number of patients swelled to 435,882 in the province with 12,780 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 462,466 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,484. 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 175,735 in the province with 5,636 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 33,072 confirmed cases while 350 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,339 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 739. On the other hand, there are 10,348 cases in GB with 186 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 106,113 cases in the capital city while 931 people have lost their lives. 

Mehak Javed

Mehak Javed is immensely creative and an enthusiastic journalist, contributing in the publication of timely and accurate news. She is a skilled writer along proven history of achievement in the field with several years of professional experience. Mehak is working with GNN since 2020.

World

'Very high risk': WHO warns of likely spread of Covid omicron variant globally

The global health body designated the variant B.1.1.529, which was first spotted in South Africa, as a “variant of concern” on Friday.

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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'Very high risk': WHO warns of likely spread of Covid omicron variant globally

LONDON: The omicron variant of the coronavirus is likely to spread further and poses a “very high” global risk, according to the World Health Organization, which warned Monday surges of Covid infections caused by the variant of concern could have “severe consequences” for some areas.

“Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high,” the WHO said in its risk assessment on Monday within a technical brief to its 194 member states.

“Depending on these characteristics, there could be future surges of Covid-19, which could have severe consequences, depending on a number of factors including where surges may take place. The overall global risk related to the new VOC [variant of concern] Omicron is assessed as very high,” the U.N. health agency said.

The WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529, which was first spotted in South Africa, as a “variant of concern” on Friday.

It said in its report on Monday that it is “a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations ... some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility.”

-- Known unknowns -- 

However, there are still considerable uncertainties and unknowns regarding this variant, it said, repeating that sentiment Monday.

First of all, experts don’t yet know just how transmissible the variant is and whether any increases in infections are related to immune escape, intrinsic increased transmissibility, or both.

Secondly, there is uncertainty over how well vaccines protect against infection, transmission and clinical disease of different degrees of severity, and death. And third of all, there is uncertainty over whether the variant presents with a different severity profile.

The WHO has said it will take weeks to understand how the variant may affect diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. Preliminary evidence suggests the strain has an increased risk of reinfection, however.

Early data suggests that the variant is spreading in South Africa more rapidly than previous strains did and that the variant could be starting to trigger a new wave of infections, according to an analysis by the Financial Times.

Covid symptoms linked to omicron have been described as “extremely mild” by the South African doctor who first raised the alarm over the new strain.

Read more: South African doctor who first spotted the omicron Covid variant explains the symptoms

It’s very important to remember that, so far, there have only been a small number of cases reported around the world in several southern African countries and a smattering of cases in the U.K., France, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong, but none yet in the US so it could take a while to fully understand what specific symptoms, if any, are attributable to the omicron variant on a wider scale.

It’s also too early to tell what degree of health risk the new variant poses at a global level; the international community has already seen several increasingly virulent strains of the coronavirus, first with the “alpha” variant and then the “delta” variant, which is currently the globally dominant strain.

Covid vaccines have greatly helped to reduce severe infection, hospitalization and death, so new variants are closely monitored to assess whether, and how, they might impact the efficacy of vaccines.

-- Mitigation plans --

The WHO urged member states to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand variants, including omicron, and to increase community testing to detect if omicron is circulating.

It also called on member states to accelerate Covid vaccinations “as rapidly as possible,” especially among high-priority groups.

News of a new variant spooked global markets Friday but European stocks climbed Monday morning. The region has already been battling a sharp surge in infections caused by the delta variant, putting pressure on health services in a number of countries, including Germany and the Netherlands.

The WHO urged countries to put in place mitigation measures to prepare for a possible increase in Covid caseloads “and associated pressure on the health system, ensure mitigation plans are in place to maintain essential health services and necessary health care resources are in place to respond to potential surges.”

SOURCE: CNBC

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Technology

Bitcoin, other cryptos surge after sharp sell-off

The price of bitcoin climbed back above $58,000, rising 8.6% in 24 hours to $58,607.75, according to Coin Metrics data.

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Bitcoin, other cryptos surge after sharp sell-off

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies surged Monday after a sharp sell-off at the end of last week.

The price of bitcoin climbed back above $58,000, rising 8.6% in 24 hours to $58,607.75, according to Coin Metrics data.

Other digital assets also rose, with ether jumping more than 9% to $$4,440.99 and XRP up 9% at around 99 cents.

Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia Pacific at cryptocurrency exchange Luno, said early reports that the new, heavily-mutated omicron Covid variant came with milder symptoms was giving the market a boost.

“We’re seeing news of the variant being potentially weaker in terms of symptoms in early analysis, which has bolstered the market comeback,” Ayyar said via email. “Hence, smart investors have probably bought this dip.”

Bitcoin last week sank as low as $53,549, its lowest level since early October, amid a broader sell-off in stocks and other riskier assets on the back of fears over the new coronavirus variant.

The world’s largest digital currency was briefly down more than 20% from its recent all-time high of nearly $69,000, officially entering bear market territory. Bear markets are typically defined by a decline of 20% of more from recent highs.

The new Covid variant, first identified in South Africa, has spread to multiple countries including the U.K., Germany and Italy.

The US, UK and other nations have restricted travel with some African countries in response. Britain has also introduced new measures to tackle the new virus mutation, including mandatory mask wearing in shops and public transport in England.

On Sunday, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first spotted the omicron variant, described its symptoms as “extremely mild,” soothing fears of a potential return of lockdown restrictions during the holidays.

“The global environment did add to the uncertainty across all risk asset classes as we saw last week, but the bounce back always shows us how strong the uptrend is, which is what we’re seeing here,” Ayyar said.

If bitcoin loses $48,000 to $50,000 on a daily or weekly basis, “that would definitely imply bearishness,” he added. But for now, Ayyar says “we’re still in bull market territory.”

SOURCE: CNBC

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Sports

Messi wins Ballon d'Or for seventh time

Argentine football great Lionel Messi defeated Robert Lewandowski of Polish (Bayern Munich Club) and Georginho (Chelsea) of Italy for this annual award for the best player in the world of football. 

Published by Mehak Javed

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Messi wins Ballon d'Or for seventh time

Paris: Argentina and Paris Saint-Germain forward Lionel Messi has created history as he won the Ballon d'Or award for a record-extending seventh time late on Monday night.    

Argentine football great Lionel Messi defeated Robert Lewandowski of Polish (Bayern Munich Club) and Georginho (Chelsea) of Italy for this annual award for the best player in the world of football. 

By winning the award, Messi has gone several miles ahead of Portugal’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of winning the most Ballons d’Or. 

The 34-year-old Messi now has 7 awards to his name, while 36-year-old Ronaldo has won this honor 5 times. 

Besides this, the star footballer claimed a maiden Copa America title with his country this year and was top scorer in La Liga for the 2020-21 season with 30 goals.

Messi ​​won the Best Player of the Year award for the first time in 2009. He won this title in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and now in 2021. 

Messi joined PSG on a free transfer from Barcelona during the off-season and collected 613 points to finish ahead of Lewandowski (580) and Chelsea's Italy midfielder Jorginho (460) at a star-studded ceremony in Paris. 

For the unversed, Messi and Ronaldo have won this award a total of 12 times since 2008. Thus, both players are dominating the world of football.

Awarded by France Football magazine, the Ballon d'Or has been awarded since 1956.

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