Pakistan reported its lowest daily number of new Covid-19 cases since October 2020 yesterday, signalling the settling down of the country’s fourth wave of the pandemic. It goes to the credit of the PTI government that it was able to identify the uptick in cases of the delta variant back in July in a timely manner and through the NCOC began taking necessary measures to control its spread. Decisions to restrict large indoor gatherings, rolling back in-person teaching at schools and reducing office attendance to 50 percent were just some protocols that evidently helped keep the positivity rate contained and eventually drop to its current acceptable level of 1.3 percent. The careful and conservative easing off of these restrictions that corresponded with the diminishing virulence of the virus is also commendable. However, now that the country has largely opened up, no amount of complacency on part of either the federal or provincial governments should be acceptable as the virus is always on the prowl to mutate, often into a more dangerous version of itself and brings another wave of illness and death. Mandatory mask wearing and social distancing protocols are therefore still necessary and while it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure compliance with government guidelines, it is as much the duty of the citizenry to cooperate with and contribute to the safety of the public at large. This not only requires keeping oneself safe but respectfully reminding those who aren’t of the importance of following these new rules of social engagement. Pakistan has fared well compared to regional countries, especially India, with over 450,000 deaths and 34 million cases. That there is no apparent scientific rationale to explain why it is so, makes it all the more imperative to be wary of a situation that has so far not been witnessed and would therefore not be easy to deal with.
Vaccination against covid-19 is perhaps the only dependable and demonstrably fastest way towards reaching an end to the pandemic. According to the NCOC, 16 percent of the population is fully vaccinated while 29.5 percent has received one dose. These numbers need to be much higher to achieve the required ‘population immunity’ that would significantly reduce the possibility of a dangerous resurgence of covid-19. Eliminating misconceptions and misinformation about vaccines and encouraging people to get them while ensuring their ample supply is critical in this endeavour. With dengue spreading like wildfire, the easing off of covid-19 is some much-needed relief. One hopes the government sustains this advantage for the foreseeable future.