While risk of infection from viruses always rises as winter approaches, this time the situation is made much worse because of all sorts of problems caused by the coronavirus. Much of the world is rightly bracing for the change in weather to intensify what is increasingly being called a second wave of Covid19. The situation is indeed pretty grim especially in places like North America, South America, much of Europe, and closer to home in India as both the numbers of new infections as well as deaths are showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Now there's not just new cases to worry about, but also other treatable viruses whose vaccines might not be readily available in a number of countries at the moment. International trade was one of the first and biggest victims of the global lockdown that was forced by the virus just a few months ago, which meant that supply of pharmaceuticals, along with many other things of course, was also suddenly cut off to most of the world. That is why doctors were worried until very recently that lack of medicines might also cause viruses that are otherwise treatable to get out of control.
That, in turn, would only add fuel to the coronavirus fire. When people suffer from diseases, even if they are curable, it lowers their immunity levels and leaves them more vulnerable to Covid-19; especially if they have to visit hospitals and subject themselves to unnecessary exposure for their treatment. So far Pakistan has been more successful than most countries in controlling the spread of the coronavirus, yet authorities have been sounding alarm bells recently. Federal Minister Asad Umar, who heads the government's Covid-19 response machinery, has warned of a very serious upsurge very soon if preventive measures are not taken since the country's mortality rate increased by 140 percent just last week. He also very rightly said, "We are collectively committing a blunder by recklessly ignoring all SOPs and the results have started to show." And since now there's more than just the coronavirus to worry about, because other infections cannot just deteriorate because of unavailability of medicines but also add to the coronavirus tally, it is really about time that the people got their act together and started behaving more responsibly in public places. There's only so much the government can do in addition to warning everybody again and again about just how big a problem a second wave would be in Pakistan.
Arshad Gill (Lahore)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020