Third wave of Covid-19 By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

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Pmalik muhammad akistan is in the grip of the third wave of coronavirus which is spreading faster than its previous two stints. According to the NCOC, the current rate of infections stands at 8.2 percent which is indeed very alarming and if it continues with the same velocity, things are likely to get out of hand and put a lot of strain on our health system. Pakistan is lucky to have waded through the previous two waves with minimum loss of lives and infections as compared to the rest of the world; thanks to the prudent strategy of smart lockdowns pursued by the government.

While the government has already ruled out the possibility of a complete lockdown and is determined to persist with its already successful approach of smart lockdowns to prevent its spread, it is encouraging to note that it is also simultaneously working on strategies to administer the vaccine against corona to the maximum possible number of people. It has already completed the vaccination of frontline health workers and doctors engaged in dealing with coronavirus cases and currently, senior citizens are also being vaccinated all over Pakistan in centres especially established by the NCOC for the purpose. According to the Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, more than forty thousand people are being vaccinated at the NCOC centres through the country on a daily basis and the number is likely to increase in the coming days.

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Our friend and iron brother China has so far donated 1.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Reportedly Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart and State Councilor Wang Yi, on Tuesday underscoring that Pakistan had devised an elaborate plan of vaccination across the country as part of its efforts to combat the pandemic. He discussed with him the efforts to reinforce Pakistan’s capacity to effectively and expeditiously fight the pandemic by ensuring the supply of the Chinese vaccine to Pakistan during March-April 2021. The Chinese foreign minister Wang assured him that China will continue to firmly support Pakistan in its fight against the pandemic and accord the highest priority to the requirements of its time-tested friend.

Last August, Pakistan also signed an agreement with GAVI under which the organisation would provide 90 million vaccines to Pakistan—good enough to cover 20 percent of the population, as soon as the vaccines come available. GAVI will bear the cost of these doses and the government has already announced free vaccination for all its citizens in due course of time. In the meantime, the private sector has also been allowed to import vaccines and according to media reports a private party in Karachi has already imported a consignment of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik, which will be marketed after approval of the government and determination of its prices.

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The foregoing facts clearly indicate the dedication and commitment of the government in securing the public against the onslaught of the coronavirus and have the maximum number of people vaccinated against it. Apart from the practical steps to fight coronavirus clinically, the government is also relentlessly engaged in creating awareness among the people regarding preventive measures to avoid contracting the virus. As they say prevention is better than cure, the best way to check the spread of virus is to take all precautionary measures enunciated in the SOPs announced by the government.

Needless to emphasise that no policy or strategy adopted by the government can be successful without the cooperation and support of the masses. Coronavirus is not only a threat to human lives but also to the economies of affected countries. It is therefore incumbent upon the masses to observe the SOPs in letter and spirit and abide by the measures taken in the form of smart lockdowns and regulating business activities.

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People must wear masks which act as a protective wall against contracting the virus. As an individual, one can lower one’s risk of infection by reducing the rate of contact with other people. Avoiding public spaces and unnecessary social activities, especially events with large numbers of people or crowds will lower the chance of exposure to the coronavirus as well as to other infectious diseases like flu. Washing hands repeatedly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser also helps in keeping the virus at bay. Similarly avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness is also an imperative. Covering the nose with hands or handkerchief while sneezing also makes hell of a difference in checking the spread of the virus. These are the things which individuals can do without much hassle and cost. There is only the need to regulate lives in conformity with the demand of the situation till the time the entire population gets vaccinated against the virus. People must take the issue seriously and abandon their carefree attitude in their own and the country’s interest.