Extreme caution needed
It ought to be a little disturbing for policy makers that Sindh’s Covid-19 tally has topped 300 for the first time in three weeks. Sure, neither the number nor the trend is as serious as in most of the world, but it is clearly an escalation by what has come to be known as Pakistan’s high standards in the fight against the coronavirus. To their credit, authorities were careful every time they mentioned their successes to remind everybody that the battle was by no means over and extreme caution was still needed to keep up the gains. And it was feared that Eidul Azha followed by the holy month of Muharram might encourage people to mingle a lot more than usual, which could lead to a situation where the virus stages a comeback; however limited in scale it might be.
It is too soon to say if any such fears are turning out to be true, of course, but Pakistan needs to be on the alert perhaps even more than countries that continue to suffer precisely because of all the ground we have successfully covered. Any complacency right now would undo most if not all of the gains very quickly. And now that we have reopened offices and also schools, failure springing from carelessness is the last thing that we need. It would not only put those people in trouble whose recklessness and irresponsibility causes the virus to spread, but also a very large number of other people who most likely do everything in their power to follow all the rules.
This is where the government needs to step in with authority. For all its steps and policies that ensured such good results against such a monumental problem, it did leave a little something to be desired as far as its information outreach was concerned. Sure, it put up a few warning advertisements on state television and radio, but clearly a lot more needs to be done. This message needs to be spread across the length and breadth of the country and also impress the lot far in the periphery that does not take such news very seriously. This is, in some ways, our most crucial stage even though we have come out so fine from this fight so far. Our medical facilities are very limited, and they were almost overrun when the situation got very grim, so extreme caution is needed at all times.
China leads the way