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December 2, 2020

Rising death

Editorial

December 2, 2020

The National Command and Operation Centre was told on Tuesday at a meeting that, while the overall positivity rate for the Covid-19 virus in the country has dropped from seven percent to just over six percent, there has been an overall increase in the number of cases testing positive and the number of deaths. We now have over 400,000 people affected by Covid-19 and the number of deaths has risen to over 8000. For the first time, since June this year, over 60 deaths per day are being reported. The highest positivity rate has come from Azad Jammu and Kashmir, where it stands at 14 percent. In Mirpur city, it is 20 percent. The rate is also on the increase in other cities around the country, including Karachi.

The NCOC has asked people to report violations of SOPs in its latest attempt to control the coronavirus and prevent a spread, which could prove devastating as hospitals become too crowded to deal with the problem. As hospitals become too overwhelmed to deal with the problem, the NCOC must also decide what to do about the rallies by the opposition as well events held by the government and private individuals. In a welcome development, the cabinet has said Pakistan will aim at procuring a vaccine by the first quarter of 2021. The final decision on where to purchase this vaccine from will depend on several factors, and the government has said that initial negotiations have started. All these decisions will of course be vital in determining how quickly and effectively our mass vaccination can begin once the vaccine is here.

Experts around the world agree that the vaccine is the only way to stop the pandemic before it takes a still greater toll around the globe. Meanwhile, Pakistan has approved the Rapid Antigen Test for Covid-19 which will be carried out initially only at government-approved laboratories. The Rapid Antigen Test or RAT involves a nasal swab, followed by testing after which the result is produced in only 15 minutes. A positive RAT usually means the patient almost certainly has the virus; a negative result however does not completely rule out the possibility of the person being Covid-positive. All these measures are aimed at preventing the virus from spreading further. How far they can succeed will be determined by the implementation of existing SOPs by the government and by the people.