The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) may have been closed down, and pandemic restrictions and SOPs may have been severely toned down, but this does not mean we have seen the end of the virus. As we have learnt from the many waves of the pandemic, the virus comes like a rollercoaster, mutating into various strands. Despite a few months of stability and life seemingly coming back to normal, Covid-19 cases are resurging across Pakistan, with the positivity rate in Karachi reaching alarming levels at 21.23 per cent on Thursday.

This is concerning news. The subsiding of the pandemic did not give the country’s economy time to breathe as it coincided with political turmoil in the country and the Russia-Ukraine war, plunging a lot of the world’s economy into crisis. With the dire economic situation we face today, with the rampant inflation, reverting to strict restrictions may not be something Pakistan could afford at this time, and in all likelihood, not something the one-year government would be willing to risk for the 2023 polls.

However, the country, particularly our health infrastructure, also cannot afford an outbreak of the virus again. The government will have to rejuvenate energy into vaccination programmes again. These are new strands of the virus being reported so the government must encourage booster shots and introduce reasonable SOPs such as mask-wearing again.

There must be a continued communication campaign on this because every time there is a drop in cases, people revert to the status quo. There is a need to adopt timely precautions, including social distancing and mask compliance, to avoid further spread of the virus, especially in the lead-up to Eid, which has in the past always led to increased infection rates.