Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Saturday warned that Covid-19 cases in the country could soon cross the numbers seen during the first wave of the pandemic.
Addressing the media after chairing a session of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the minister said if the cases increase at the current rate during the next few days or week, the situation would be worse than the peak of the first wave which was witnessed in June last year.
Reiterating that the government’s first priority was saving the livelihood of people from the pandemic, Umar said tougher restrictions might be imposed if the current trend continues in the country.
“Our first effort is this (protection of livelihoods) but you’re seeing the speed with which this is continuing to spread. If we don’t take immediate measures then such a situation can also develop that we have to increase restrictions.”
The country is experiencing its third Covid-19 wave – fuelled by the UK variant of the virus – and recorded more than 4,300 cases during the previous 24-hr period.
“The Covid situation which is taking shape is becoming very dangerous,” said the head of the NCOC.
Umar further said that the third wave was being fuelled by the virus’ UK strain which is more transmissible and said that data from other countries in the region also points to this fact.
He added that during a review of the SOPs and measures to curb the spread of the disease by the NCOC, it was found that instructions and SOPs are not being followed as they should have been.
“It is my request to the political leadership, ours and the opposition’s, to spread the message that Pakistan once again needs to combat the disease and defend our people.”
Adding that the people of the country have already shown once before that they could successfully combat the pandemic, he urged all sections of the society to play their role in following SOPs and spreading the message.
The regions of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Punjab have in recent days reported a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. The UK strain of the virus – reportedly more lethal as well – is sweeping across these areas as the country grapples with the third wave of the pandemic.
A clinical investigation, published on March 11 in “Journal of Medical Virology”, showed that SARS-CoV-2/B117 – the UK variant – is spreading fast in Pakistan and variably reacting against the immunity gained by recovered persons from the previous infection in the country and across the globe.