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October 30, 2020

Important warnings

Editorial

 
October 30, 2020

As is the case around the world, Covid-19 cases have begun to rise sharply in the country, according to the Prime Minister's Advisor on Health Dr Faisal Sultan as well as Minister for Planning and head of the National Command and Operations Centre Asad Umar. The two men have warned that the new rise in Covid cases means the second surge, which many had feared, is here in Pakistan too. The same second surge is being experienced in many European countries. There are selective lockdowns in the UK, as new cases hit the country. Pakistan is then not a surprising victim of the second surge of the disease. Strict warnings have been given to the public to follow safety measures, which include the mandatory wearing of masks, the closing down of wedding halls, and markets or shopping malls by 10pm and of recreational places by 6pm. The NCOC has warned that if these rules are not followed, tough fines will be imposed on the owners of the wedding halls. Oddly, a two-week period has been given to the wedding halls to implement the measures so that people can find alternative venues. Surely, they should be discouraged from organising any gathering, rather than doing so at another venue.

Dr Faisal Sultan has said that, while a few weeks ago, the number of cases being reported per day was 400 to 450. It has now risen to 700 or beyond. On October 28, a record number of cases totaling over 900 was recorded in the country. This is a dangerous trend. It is merely the start of winter. The winter will deepen and with it the virus could spread further. It is essential that people take the measures advised, which include not only the wearing of masks, but also socially distancing oneself and avoiding large crowds and gatherings. This will be a special challenge in what is traditionally the wedding season in Pakistan. But it has to be done. The government has said the police have been asked to ensure compliance with the measures.

Precisely how successful they are in this may determine Pakistan's success in fighting the virus which had not hit it as badly as other countries last time around. There is a need to be cautious and to reach people in the best ways possible. The mass media has to be used. Whereas the telephonic messages heard from many popular mobile phone companies is a good step, it is not easy to persuade people to comply with the steps advised. This is in fact true in many countries. But it is also true that we have to live with the virus rather than die with it. To do so, at the moment, all we have are the safety measures. A vaccine is still to come in, and until this happens, compliance is the only way to ward off illness and death.