On Sunday, 5,611 people tested positive for COVID-19. The third wave of coronavirus seems to be spreading quite fast. On Saturday, 157 people died due to coronavirus in Pakistan. This was the highest number ever recorded since the pandemic broke out in the country. Last year the highest number of deaths was 153 in June.
On the other hand, people are not following basic SOPs like wearing masks or sanitising hands or maintaining social distancing. The interior ministry has notified army deployment for the implementation of COVID-19 SOPs. Hopefully, people will now follow SOPs.
In the wake of the third coronavirus wave, the government has started walk-in vaccination for those between the age of 60 to 64. But the problem is that the vaccination process in Pakistan is quite slow. According to a report in Dawn, if Pakistan continues its vaccination drive at this rate, “it will take more than three years to cover 20 per cent of the country’s population”. Even the private vaccines are not much in numbers. Unless and until we accelerate our vaccination drive, it will be very difficult to deal with this pandemic.
We have seen how horrible the situation is in neighbouring India. Prime Minister Imran Khan and several cabinet ministers as well as many Pakistanis expressed their solidarity with India. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi tweeted: “As a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of COVID-19, Pakistan has officially offered relief and support to India, including ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X-ray machines, PPEs and other related items.” Qureshi added that Pakistan believes in a policy of humanity first.
We should not take the situation in India lightly. No hospital beds and acute oxygen shortage in India is scary. Unfortunately, the hospital capacity in Pakistan as well as oxygen supply is also reaching its capacity. Some hospitals in cities like Islamabad are full. ICU beds were more than 90 per cent full a few days ago in Lahore. Oxygen supply ended in two hospitals in Quetta. This is all frightening but real.
We need to be more careful and follow SOPs strictly while the government needs to focus more on the vaccination process.