As the cases of Omicron’s sub-variant BA.2.12.1 have started trickling in, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has wasted no time to restore the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to handle the pandemic’s new onslaught efficiently. The NCOC was disbanded by the previous government after the coronavirus cases touched the lowest point, and the government was convinced that the threat was overtly over. The NCOC has written a chapter of successful work since its formation in March 2020 by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to check the deadly coronavirus pandemic. The centre with the representation of all the provinces took timely hard and result-oriented decisions from lockdown to the formation of working rules and arrangements for vaccination besides keeping the rich data on daily cases, deaths, recoveries, and number of vaccinations. When the NCOC was disbanded, some circles had called it a premature decision, since the pandemic was making a comeback in neighbouring China. The pandemic keeps on striking with new variants, and since the Omicron sub-variant, BA.2.12 was on an unchecked march in several countries, its invasion to Pakistan was just a matter of time. In recent days the new variant of Omicron and its growing cases have caught the attention of the prime minister who has “also sought a report from the National Institute of Health (NIH) over the current Covid-19 situation”. Since the dissolution of the NCOC, the NIH has been tasked with overseeing the matters related to the pandemic.
The restoration of the NCOC means that red lines are around once again, and the situation requires the government as well as the public to put up a joint front to defeat the pandemic. The situation demands that tough screening arrangements are once again placed at airports, and at public places, physical distancing is enforced. An effective awareness campaign should be run to let the public know that the variant is more transmissible, but it can only be contained through vaccination and by following a physical distancing regime. The new variant accounts for 29 per cent of new Covid-19 infections in April’s third week in the US alone. The virus has been detected in 13 countries, while Pakistan is the 14th country hit by it but the US is the worst hit country by it so far. Scientists say it spreads even faster than stealth Omicron. The good thing about Pakistan is a majority of the public has got themselves vaccinated despite a vicious propaganda unleashed by conservative quarters. Those who are left out should hurry to nearby health facilities and get themselves vaccinated. Moreover, the government has initiated the booster dose campaign for those who have completed the vaccination rounds. Hopefully, Pakistan will come out of the new wave unscathed. Pakistan’s performance in the Covid combat has been lauded all over the world, and a report by the United Nations Development Programme is one of them which called Pakistan among the countries that have done fairly well in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, the World Health Organisation declared Pakistan one such country from whom the international community should learn how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The government must be ready to cull the new round of the variant.