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EDITORIAL: Covid-19 is making resurgence all across the country because of the complacency that has set in at government’s and citizenry’s levels.

The data released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) shows that as of Sunday the positivity ratio was 3.88 percent, down from 4.47 percent a day earlier, which is based on 16,755 tests conducted during this time.

Nearly a one percent decrease overnight in positivity rate does not reflect real incidence of infections. In fact, according to a source in the Ministry of National Health Services, the number of Covid cases is doubling every five days.

This is backed by daily news reports of increasing number of hospitalisations and deaths. There is a discrepancy between official and unofficial figure because, as explained by a member of the Task Force on Covid-19, Dr Javed Akram, the size of the sample matters rather than the positivity rate, since 30 percent of the infected people are asymptomatic but continue to spread the virus.

He also pointed out that the volume of tests had reduced almost to a third from 50,000 in February to 17,000 at present which, he noted, is indicative of fatigue on part of both the citizens and health authorities.

The National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) established by the former government under the then federal minister Asad Umar and assisted by the Army had set up vaccination centres all over the country, also using mobile units for a mass vaccination campaign. But last April, it was closed after large-scale vaccination led to a significant reduction in Covid cases.

It may be recalled that during the first and second waves of Covid-19 many people flocked to vaccination centres as well private laboratories; at present, seeking vaccination jabs are mostly those who need to travel abroad. Little surprise then that the actual infection rate is much higher than the official data suggests.

The NCOC has recently been revived under the Federal Health Minister, but it lacks the support structure previously provided by the Army. Awareness campaign through the media has also fizzled out.

Meanwhile, a new Omicron variant of the coronavirus has surfaced, infecting more and more people. Although it is not as virulent as the previous strain, its transmissibility is very high. Experts warn that the virus will be around for a long time, and people need to learn to live with it. It is imperative, therefore, to control it with mass testing and vaccination.

Also, public awareness campaigns should be restarted, emphasising the need for strictly observing SOPs. Wearing facemask in shopping centres and other public gatherings, once again, ought to be made mandatory. With the Eid festival round the corner, religious leaders should be asked to advice people not to hug each other — customary on the occasion — or shake hands. On its part, the government must carefully monitor infections before the virus gets out of control.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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