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EDITORIAL: Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in various countries, including Pakistan. According to a recent National Institute of Health (NIH) report, the weekly coronavirus positivity ratio in this country has increased from 0.85 percent to 1.24 percent.

In a total of 8,458 tests conducted nationwide in the second week of the current month 72 cases were detected. The next week nearly half of that number of tests, i.e., 3,777 showed 47 people had contracted the infection.

Considering that these cases have been reported on the basis of randomly conducted tests, they do not represent a correct picture of the actual incidence of infections. Besides, those tested positive may have spread the contagion to many others around them.

Meanwhile, experts warn of a possible spike in Covid cases in the coming winter months since diseases such as Covid-19, influenza and other respiratory infections tend to thrive in colder environments.

Our health authorities seem to be rather complacent about the likely impact of the rate at which Covid-19 is increasing. An NIH official has been quoted in this paper as saying that the situation is being closely monitored, and that even though the positivity rate has jumped up there is no reason for concern.

The new variants of coronavirus are said to be milder than the previous ones, but they cannot be taken lightly. Although so far no one has died from Covid-19, two critically ill patients have reportedly been admitted in hospitals. The emerging threat should be recognised for what it is and met with an efficient and effective response.

The government, say NIH officials, has not taken any decision as yet regarding a mass vaccination drive. This despite the fact that in a September 7 post on social media platform X, the World Health Organisation chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while expressing concern over the trends for Covid-19 had said that “what worries us the most is the low level of at-risk people who have not received a vaccination dose recently. Please don’t wait to get additional dose if it is recommended for you.”

Before the situation gets out of control the caretaker government must take necessary preventive steps. What needs to be done is pretty clear, given the experience during the 2020 outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The place to start is making people aware of the lurking danger and asked to adopt precautionary measures such as frequent hand washing and maintaining distance in social interactions.

At the same time, free of charge testing for the virus should be made available all over the country. And those most vulnerable — according to some health experts in the over 80 age bracket — given protective jabs on priority basis. The time to act is NOW.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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