DURING the past couple of weeks, there has been an uptick in Covid-19 cases in the country. According to news reports, 74 new cases surfaced only in Islamabad on Sunday. This is the highest increase in the number of cases for this month and is more than twice the total number of cases reported in KP for the same day. A few days after the reopening of schools, 34 children in three towns of central Punjab also tested positive for Covid-19. Moreover, the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences put off reopening its private wards after five doctors contracted the infection since the hospital’s out-patient department started functioning again last month. Meanwhile, in Sindh, the provincial government’s spokesperson held a news conference on Monday to share his concern over the rising incidence of Covid-19. He said that in the past two weeks alone, the ratio of coronavirus-positive patients had risen from 1pc to 2.6pc, and lamented that the public had mostly stopped taking all precautions. Balochistan has also seen a sharp increase with Covid-19 cases tripling between August and September to reach May levels, while in KP, seven teachers tested positive for the infection earlier last week.
This resurgence in cases can indeed be attributed to the public’s complacent attitude after lockdowns were lifted. It appears that with the easing of restrictions and resumption of educational and business activities, people are under the impression that the pandemic is now a thing of the past, when in fact the global death toll from Covid-19 has crossed the million mark. Some government officials believe that the increase in the number of cases is a reflection of ramped-up testing. This can only mean that earlier figures were hugely undercounted as a result of less testing. The authorities need to be just as proactive in the implementation of SOPs now as they were about enforcing lockdowns when initial cases were reported — that is, if they want to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 in the country.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020