AS if the country’s economic problems were not stressful enough, we now have to worry about resurgent Covid-19.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre, new cases have risen to the highest in 80 days, with Karachi and Hyderabad now reporting positivity rates of above 10pc — a level which, in the past, would have prompted lockdown measures. A significant portion of the population had previously received Covid vaccination and subsequent booster shots, but it appears that the efficacy of immunisation has waned over time.
Citizens have also grown complacent as the national attention has been diverted to pressing economic and political crises. New strains of the coronavirus have since emerged globally, which are now spreading thanks to relaxations on both domestic and international air travel.
With school summer vacations now underway and more people travelling to visit family or for vacation purposes, the risk of a resurgence in Covid cases has considerably heightened. Compounding challenges is the summer wedding season, which will soon be in full swing. It will bring with it large public gatherings in indoor, air-conditioned spaces — a sure recipe for any ceremony to turn into a so-called super-spreader event.
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The government has little time to waste: it should immediately launch a public awareness and education drive to urge people to once again adopt preventive measures like the wearing of masks, periodic washing of hands, and avoidance of public gatherings in restricted spaces wherever possible.
There also needs to be a renewed push to encourage people — especially those citizens most at risk, or those around them — to receive booster shots. The government needs to be helpful in this regard: it needs to provide information regarding eligibility as well as availability of vaccines so that it is easy for citizens to find vaccination centres themselves. Much of the populace seems to have tuned out the danger posed by Covid after the last wave subsided. The state needs to take immediate action to reverse that.
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022