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Thursday May 30, 2024

Another round

By Editorial Board
December 10, 2021

Pakistan must begin once again its battle against the Covid-19 virus, with the threat of the Omicron variant becoming a near-reality – as a woman in Karachi is suspected of having contracted it. While at the moment it is unclear whether she does have this variant, this is an important time to recollect all efforts and focus on ensuring the new variant does not spread in the country. Pakistan has banned flights from countries in Africa including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and other nations, and then has also extended the ban to nine other countries including those in Europe such as Hungary, and Croatia. Travellers from countries such as the US, Turkey, and other destinations must carry a negative PCR test conducted at least 48 hours before travel if they are aged over six years.

Aside from this, the Sindh government has been quick to put in place measures which it hopes would restrict the spread of a virus variant which is known to be as highly transmissible as Delta. Most cases of Covid-19 with the Omicron variant are said to have been mild, and there are some reports that the virus has already mingled with the ordinary cold in flu season, which is adding to its quick spread around the globe. However, those who are unvaccinated are of course far more likely to be more seriously affected and face severe disease and hospitalisation. This is something Pakistan no doubt wishes to avoid. As Federal Minister Asad Umar has said, the NCOC had warned it was only a matter of time before Omicron made its appearance in Pakistan. To prevent it from spreading we need to speed up our vaccination campaign, with only 48 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated – and also consider booster doses for as many categories as is possible and advisable.

We also need to ensure that SOPs, which have been virtually forgotten, are revived. It is vital to act quickly and to ensure that we do not fall into the Omicron trap, which could have debilitating effects on not just our already strained healthcare system but also our very fragile economy. The variant has already been found in some of the most highly vaccinated countries of the world, and we therefore need to do everything possible to step up vaccination in the hope of stopping it before it spreads too quickly.