A Covid winter? – 29 Nov 2022

With China posting record high Covid-19 infections this winter, and its citizens protesting its strict zero-Covid policy, there are legitimate fears of a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The disease is not over and the latest data show that there has been an upsurge in both new infections and deaths. This is not happening in any one region; from Asia to Europe and the Americas the trend is changing once again. The highest weekly upsurge has been in Japan and South Korea with nearly 700,000 new cases in Japan and around 380,000 new infections in South Korea. France has reported over 300,000 new cases in the past seven days whereas Germany, Brazil, USA, Italy, and Taiwan have detected over 100,000 new infections. These are not simple infections that do not claim lives; the US has recorded over 1,000 deaths in this past week while Germany and Japan have also reported over 800 deaths in the same period.

These reports show that the virus is still raging albeit with reduced intensity; it is still fatal and may consume many more lives if the world does not take it seriously. If still millions of people are getting infected around the world and thousands are dying from this infection, there should be no room for any complacency. Pakistan to date has recorded over 1.5 million infections and over 30600 deaths. Though this may look slightly better compared to other countries, there were over 5,800 active cases in the last week of November. There is hardly any doubt that Pakistan has performed better but no one should take this trend for granted. Covid-19 is a deadly disease and even the most developed countries found themselves at the mercy of its lethal impact in the past two years. However, there is good enough reason to understand that the world cannot afford to see a repeat of the lockdown days. Neither the economy, nor the infrastructures nor mental health can manage a return to whole cities locking down. This is why what we need is to ensure that the spread of the virus is stopped through vigilance: masking, some distancing, and vaccines.

Somehow, the vaccination campaign in Pakistan that was in full swing last year appears to have lost its momentum in the last few months. There is a need to educate people about the still persisting virus so that they get vaccinated at their earliest – and also get the booster shots which are also available. Especially in flood affected areas where health facilities are no more available any outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic may take a heavy toll. Mobile vaccination centres should also be dispatched to areas where displaced people have taken shelter.

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