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EDITORIAL: Thanks to timely and effective measures adopted by the government, Pakistan has almost won the battle against Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking at a presser on Wednesday alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar made the much welcome announcement of lifting all Covid-related restrictions, including on wedding halls, indoor dining, markets, religious gatherings, and sports events.

The decision to declare ‘normalisation’ was taken at a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), headed by the minister. He expressed optimism that the situation would remain under control as over 70 percent people had already been vaccinated — the necessary percentage to achieve herd immunity — while 87 percent of the vaccine illegible individual had received at least one shot.

Credit is due to the NCOC for this good work. The effort has helped control the virus to a significant extent. It will remain a clear and present danger, nonetheless, until all the illegible people are fully vaccinated. As of Wednesday, the NCOC data showed the national positivity rate at 1.42 percent, with 57 patients in critical care across the country. While this low positivity speaks of significant success in the fight against the pandemic, it must not lead to laxity at any level.

Even a country like China, which contained the spread of Covid-19 with tough measures right at the start when it first appeared more than two years ago, is now faced with a renewed outbreak of Covid-19 sparked by Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Another country known for having efficiently controlled the situation was South Korea. Presently, it confronts its worst surge in infections. The number of recorded infections in that country on last Wednesday was as high as 400,000. These examples underscore the need for constant vigilance.

It must be ensured that the lifting of restrictions is not seen as a signal by the people that the threat of Covid-19 is over. It would not be surprising if the general public takes the normalisation announcement to mean just that. The minister, however, said the government continues to monitor the situation, and if need be restrictions would be re-imposed. The people should also be made to understand that there is no room for complacency, and that they must keep following the SOPs, such as wearing of masks in public places and frequent washing of hands. To get that message across the government should resume the public awareness campaign that has remained suspended for quite some time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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