Yesterday there were 3,568 COVID-19 patients in critical care in Pakistan, tweeted Asad Umar.

“This is the highest number since covid started.”

The Sindh government has also decided to suspend physical classes till grade 8 of all schools — public and private— for 15 days starting from April 6.

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Last month, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood had announced that all educational institutions will remain closed till April 11 in all districts where corona positivity and infectivity rate was high. According to a report in Dawn, a total of 19,367 under-18 children have tested positive for the coronavirus in Punjab so far. A large number of recent cases amongst minors and teenagers have contracted the UK-variant in the past three months.

The third wave of coronavirus in Pakistan is turning out to be extremely dangerous. It is indeed spreading like wildfire across the country. NCOC recently banned wedding functions — both indoor and outdoor — from April 5 onwards in areas with a three-day rolling average of an 8 per cent positivity ratio. Many cities now have a high positivity rate. The UK government has now banned entry of passengers from Pakistan from April 9.

The government’s vaccination programme for people above the age of 50 has been launched across the country. The Punjab government has launched a mobile vaccination service for senior citizens aged above 80 years and for differently-abled persons aged above 50 in four cities. Media reports say that while the government’s vaccination programme is going on smoothly, around 1,400 doses of the vaccine donated by China have either been administered to people out of turn or have went missing from three state-run hospitals in Lahore. Hopefully, such scams will stop now that private vaccines are also for sale.

Privately-imported Russian vaccine Sputnik V is now available in a few cities in the country, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The cost of the vaccine has been fixed at Rs 12,268 for two doses. Some facilities are charging an additional amount to administer the vaccine. Those who are above the age of 18 can get the private vaccine if they can afford it. We hope that those who can afford it will get the vaccine and others who qualify for the government’s vaccine programme will also get vaccinated at the earliest.

The pandemic is not going anywhere anytime soon. Despite this, we have seen how people are flouting SOPs. Markets are crowded with people who are not wearing masks and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SOPs violations. This can be dangerous. We must all act in a responsible manner and continue to follow SOPs — even after being vaccinated. This is the least that we can do.