Authorities scramble to contain the rise in coronavirus cases
he recent surge in Covid-19 cases has brought back memories of the lockdowns.
Over the past week, around 300 new cases have been reported daily. Sindh is on the top of the list of confirmed/ active cases and recoveries. Karachi has become a hotspot again. According to the Covid-19 health advisory platform of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC); the Punjab, by comparison, has a lower daily average.
In the last few months, after a decline in coronavirus cases, no deaths and new cases were reported. It was then assumed that the virus would not return; hence precautions and social distancing were lifted.
“Before reaching the ultimate target of vaccinations, the virus has again mutated into a new form. It is as if delta and omicron variants have combined to form a new one, but that isn’t possible. The coronavirus will continue to persist. We should learn to live with it and take safety measures,” says Dr Lubna Ansari Baig, the chairperson of the Institute of Public Health at Jinnah Sindh Medical University.
Dr Junaid Razzaq, a professor of emergency medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, explains: “Throughout the world, after every few days a new sub-type of the virus emerges. Our immunity is either not developed or not strong enough against the virus because it’s different from the previous one. Currently, there’s a new strain of virus that’s why the number of cases is increasing.”
Pakistan is not the only country seeing an uptick in positivity ratios. Countries like the US, the UAE and India are also facing the problem. According to Dr Rana Jawad Asghar, the CEO of Global Health Strategists and Implementers in Pakistan, the sudden surge in cases globally is due to Omicron variants B4 and B5.
The International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at the University of Karachi has been carrying out a genomic study of Covid tests to identify the variant.
Pakistan is not the only country seeing an uptick in positivity ratios. Countries like the US, the UAE and India are also seeing a similar problem. According to Dr Rana Jawad Asghar, CEO of the Global Health Strategists and Implementers in Pakistan, the sudden surge in cases globally is due to Omicron variants B4 and B5.
Mass immunisation against Covid-19 in Pakistan was a tough challenge. “Those who are upto date on their vaccines and booster shots have a smaller chance of contracting the virus. If they do get it, the symptoms are mild. It’s essential to have at least two vaccines and a booster shot for effective immunisation against the virus,” says Dr Baig.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that Covid-19 vaccines approved by them effectively prevent severe illness, hospitalisation and death from all current virus variants.
Coronavirus will likely be present in the future. We don’t know in what form; it’ll keep on mutating. Timely vaccination is going to increase our resistance to contracting the virus. Other than inoculation, people can take preventative measures to avoid being Covid positive. Experts advise:
Wear a mask, especially in closed spaces. It should cover your mouth and nose.
Make hand sanitisers a part of your life.
Avoid crowded places. Keep closed spaces ventilated.
If you invite people over, ensure that windows are open and turn on fans instead of airconditioners.
Wash your hands frequently
Get regular shots to boost your immunity against coronavirus.
Maintain social distancing. Reducing physical contact makes infection less likely.
Dr Asghar says taking these precautions will decrease your chances of getting infected. Experts say complete vaccination and booster shot protects you from a severe infection. Hospitalisation and death rates are very low for those who have been vaccinated.
Atif Vighio, a spokesperson for the Sindh health minister, says: “We need to wear masks even after getting vaccinated. The virus might not affect you or you may have only mild symptoms, but you can still be a carrier and harmful to people with chronic diseases.”
The writer is a freelance journalist, studying mass communication at the University of Karachi.