The fourth wave

Being the most densely populated city, Karachi’s COVID cases are growing on the heels of the reopening of indoor dining and gatherings. The city’s positivity rate had increased to 23.12 percent in the last 24 hours when it was 8.5-9pc 10 days ago. Adviser to CM Sindh Murtaza Wahab has termed Karachi’s Covid-19 situation ‘dangerous, alarming and concerning’.  

The Delta variant — known to be up to 60pc more transmissible than other strains — is spreading like wildfire across cities. The Delta variant has been detected in 165 cases in Pakistan, amongst countless other Alpha and Beta strains as well.

The highest positivity rates are of Gilgit, Skardu and Muzaffarabad being 23.17pc, 21.26pc and 21.03pc respectively. These are clearly a result of increased tourism to these areas, as urban dwellers in the major cities flock to the Northern Areas to find relief from high summer temperatures.

Tourism, while good for business, can have extremely dire consequences if the positivity rate is not taken notice of by the government immediately. These areas have a much weaker healthcare infrastructure than bigger cities. In the AJK capital, where political rallies are in full swing ahead of next week’s election, cases are steadily rising.

Not too long ago, the world witnessed a similar situation unfolded in India, which plunged the country and millions into a COVID-19 nightmare. Religious festivals, political rallies, and denial of the virus crippled India, harming both lives and livelihoods.

A health emergency could definitely occur if these high rates are allowed to be continued. Although the government has put in place coronavirus SOPs, such as not allowing people on board flights to Gilgit or Skardu without vaccination certificates, these restrictions need to be implemented with the highest scrutiny.

The vaccination drive must be sped up, as just over 6pc of the government’s target of 70m people have received both jabs. Smart lockdowns should be imposed in infection hotspots. The public messaging should remind citizens how foolish it would be to ignore SOPs, and that, if precaution is not taken now, a lockdown will have to be imposed.