Tuesday July 05, 2022

Sixth wave?

By Editorial Board
June 24, 2022

The fears that Pakistan had not seen the last of Covid-19 may just be coming true. The country recorded 268 cases on Wednesday, the second day when over 200 cases were recorded in the country and the positivity rate in Karachi stood at 21 per cent. These are the highest rates since January last year. By all estimations, the new variant of the virus – B.5 – has struck and people seem to be quickly succumbing to it. A combination of comorbidities and waning vaccine protection may be the reasons behind the rising infection rates. There is also the matter of the many who are still unvaccinated.

The symptoms being reported for the B.5 variant are so far mild although there have been over 70 cases in ICUs across the country, suggesting that the disease can take a serious turn. Doctors are concerned about this and have warned that it is necessary to begin a campaign to prevent the virus from spreading rapidly amidst the population. The measures recommended are those we must now be very familiar with: masking up, social distancing, hand washing/sanitizing, caution when in overcrowded spaces – and above all, vaccination. The NCOC has suggested a booster dose for all persons of eligible age in the country. It is encouraging that 85 per cent of the eligible population is already fully vaccinated and a larger number partially vaccinated. Measures at airports and other points of entry have also been recommended.

The new wave comes at a time when travel is high due to the summer break. There are therefore further fears that it could spread quickly through travel and in airplanes as well as in and from other countries. People in the country have long ago forgotten the cautions required to stave off Covid-19, with masks rarely seen even in crowded markets. This will have to change quickly along with other measures in the hope that we can prevent a slide into a sixth wave of Covid-19 and the consequences that this would bring with it. Pakistan’s businesses and industries have suffered tremendously in the past couple of years and with a crippling inflation already targeting most of society, any slide back into a full-fledged Covid spread would only make matters worse. The only way to resist is vigilance and ensuring that businesses, educational institutions, and industries follow precautionary measures.