Health experts and officials in Pakistan have urged citizens to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) amid concerns of the fourth wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
On Friday, Pakistan reported 2,327 new Covid-19 cases and 31 deaths, with a positivity rate of over 6 per cent, according to the data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), a body leading Pakistan’s response to the pandemic.
The new additions have increased the country’s overall infection tally and death toll to 986,668 and 22,760, respectively.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Faisal Sultan said the fourth wave had started, urging the public to comply with safety measures and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“We must keep in mind that Covid-19 vaccines are the most effective weapons against the virus… Every person must at least get one dose of the vaccine,” he said.
Pakistan has enhanced the pace of vaccination and hit a new daily vaccination record by administering half a million doses during the past 24 hours, with an aim to further increase the process of vaccination and inoculate 70 million eligible people by the end of this year, according to government officials.
The authorities imposed fresh smart lockdowns in parts of the country with the highest positivity rate and launched crackdowns against businesses violating the SOPs.
On Wednesday, the country’s worst-hit Sindh province decided to re-impose restrictions on indoor dining, cinemas, gyms, recreational centres and schools, directing public transporters to operate with 50 per cent of occupancy.
Naveed Rashid, an Islamabad-based public health expert, told Xinhua that although the Covid-19 cases in the country are increasing rapidly, yet a casual attitude of common citizens is being noticed, which could trigger a catastrophic situation.
“The blatant violation of SOPs, vaccine hesitancy due to misconceptions, and new variants of the virus are the major reasons behind the resurgence of the disease,” he said.
Rashid said the Delta variant is spreading fast across the country and is the biggest concern at the moment as the new variant has wreaked havoc in other countries.
Humayun Iqbal Shami, chairman of the Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Economic Forum, said the upward trajectory of coronavirus infections would not only have its adverse impacts on the country’s healthcare system but would also affect the national economy.
The economic activities were disturbed due to nationwide lockdowns in the country last year and the Pakistani people, especially the lower strata of the society bore majority of the brunt, he told Xinhua.