After chairing a meeting of National Command and Control Authority (NCCO) on Monday, Planning Minister Asad Umer has warned against another spike in coronavirus infections, if standard operating procedures (SOPs) are not observed in routine daily activities and necessary guidelines are not followed during upcoming Moharram processions. Currently, the number of daily reported positive case s has dropped below 600, out of over 20,000 tests for virus.
The Planning minister emphasised the need for tracing, tracking and testing people associated with tourism. In addition to tourism, other sectors of the economy have also been opened to resume business activities and if the necessary SOPs are not followed by the businessmen and, traders and clients then another wave of Covid-19 cannot be prevented.
The three T’s model of trace, test and treat had done wonder in South Korea in controlling the spread and treatment of coronavirus pandemic, when its first wave broke out early this year. It had still not abandoned the strategy of aggressive testing as coronavirus is still constantly mutating. The other day South Korea has reported three imported infections of newly mutated corona virus, two from Pakistan and one from Uzbekistan. The genetic mutations were detected to spike protein of the virus from three cases. The reported cases of Pakistani origin with mutant virus should be taken seriously as there is possibility of such infected people in the country as well. The coverage of virus testing needs to be maintained at the present level as business and production activities will gain momentum in addition to opening of educational institutions on September 15.The religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri told the NCCO meeting that cooperation of Ulema was being sought to formulate comprehensive protocols and workable guidelines for Muharram processions. He had given such like assurance for making people observe the governments announced SOPs during saying congregational prayers in Mosques, which had not been followed before the spike of first wave of coronavirus pandemic. He had said in an interview with a private TV Channel that strict shall be taken if SOPs were violated, which did not happen. In events of religious rituals with large attendance strict monitoring is required to implement the protocols and SOPs. Likewise, during initial rounds of smart lockdowns, both traders and buyers were found least interested in following the SOPs. The much trumpeted administrative action against the violators was not taken. It was after the implementation of strict lockdown in hotspots that helped flatten the Covid-19 curve, which is yet to tread on the downward trajectory.
Although Pakistan has achieved self-reliance in the production of N-95 masks and ventilators but local production of vaccines for the prevention of coronavirus infection is not even a distant possibility notwithstanding the Sinopharma offer of joint trials with NIH for the vaccine developed in China. The domestic infrastructure of virology needs modernisation, expansion in addition to hiring professionally competent biochemistry scientists and technicians, an inevitable project which has unfortunately not figured in government priorities in the past nor will it get due importance now in decision making about improvement in health services.