The intensity of the coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan is witnessing an unprecedented decline. The death toll from the virulent disease has come down to 11 per day, lowest since last year and the positivity rate is below two percent. In the wake of this, COVID-19 related restrictions have also been eased on the directives of the National Control and Operation Centre (NCOC), with a 100 per cent attendance at schools and opening of almost all commercial activities. However, this is no time to relax as health authorities on Wednesday announced that another variant of the virus has managed to reach the country. While no details have been mentioned about the origin of the variant, it has been informed that at least 40 cases of it have been reported so far. The variant is also said to be more lethal.
It must be noted that major urban centres in Pakistan, such as, Karachi, Hyderabad and Faisalabad are still way behind the NCOC set target for vaccinated eligible population of these cities. Pakistan has so far fully vaccinated around 37 million people in the country, which fairly means that only 16.8 per cent of the population is considerably safer against the virus. This is not enough and measures to intensify the virus must be amped up. Minister for Planning and Development and NCOC Chief Asad Umar requested more people to get vaccinated on Thursday. Taking to his official Twitter handle, Umar said that “to ensure there is no 5th wave of COVID, we have to meet vaccination targets set”. But the minister must realise that the population that is tech-savvy and has a presence on the micro-blogging site are the ones making the numbers in the inoculated list. It is the anti-waxers or people living in remote areas who need to be advocated for the vaccination.
The government had announced setting up mobile centres in far-flung villages for vaccination and carrying out the campaign in schools as well. But no effective plan has been put forth yet. Stringent efforts are required from all stakeholders as only tweets are not going to achieve numbers. There is no doubt that the NCOC has handled the COVID-19 situation in the country impressively, but it should not become complacent. New variants are after all more virulent.