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Easing travel restrictions

A revised travel advisory issued by the US for Americans travelling to Pakistan has put the country among the states having the lowest risk of spreading COVID-19 disease. Among the four levels, the US has issued “level one” Covid-19 travel notice for American citizens traveling to Pakistan. The revision – from level four to level one – is a notable improvement. This has been made possible due to an aggressive vaccination campaign launched by the government with over 119 million people having already received at least one dose of a vaccine. For the first time after the passage of 14 months, Pakistan is showing signs that COVID-19’s spread is easing, but one should not forget that the pandemic is not over. Lately, the data shared by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) showed that the positivity rate dropped to 0.64 per cent with 216 infections reported over the last 24 hours in the country, which is a positive development.

The persistent downward movement is promising. Still, the government needs to remain vigilant with vaccines, masks and other precautions to keep it going that way. Together, these mitigation actions serve to protect everyone, particularly those most at risk for severe illness. The possibility of resurfacing of new variants of Coronavirus cannot be ignored. The easing of travel advisory by the US is no doubt an achievement but any foreigner visiting Pakistan needs to be thoroughly examined before moving freely as the spread of Corona was started when visitors arrived from Iran as claimed by media reports. Foreigners infected with any variant of Corona virus can be more lethal and can create havoc in the country. At this time, Pakistan cannot afford another surge in Corona cases as its health system is already coping with the spread of dengue disease. A measure of pandemic pro-activeness needs to be adopted to deal with any virulent form of virus. After about 14 months of the pandemic, much more is emerging about the virus and vaccines. The government needs to avoid complacency and strive to keep the numbers in all areas down. For the people: get recommended vaccines and boosters, wear masks when and where appropriate, and practice good hygiene.

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