Pakistani experts stress strict SOPs adherence, vigorous vaccination efforts amid 4th wave of COVID-19

2021-07-16 14:05:37 GMT2021-07-16 22:05:37(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Raheela Nazir

ISLAMABAD, July 16 (Xinhua) -- Health experts and officials in Pakistan said strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and vigorous vaccination efforts are imperative amid concerns of the fourth wave of COVID-19.

Pakistan confirmed a total of 2,327 COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths, with a COVID-19 positivity rate of over 6 percent, according to the data released Friday by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), a body leading Pakistan's response to the pandemic.

Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Faisal Sultan said the fourth wave had started, urging the public to comply with safety measures and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"We must keep in mind that coronavirus vaccines are the most effective weapons against the coronavirus ... every person must at least get one dose of the vaccine," he said.

Pakistan has enhanced the pace of vaccination and hit a new daily vaccination record by administering half a million doses during the past 24 hours, with an aim to further increase the process of vaccination and inoculate 70 million eligible people by the end of this year, according to government officials.

The authorities imposed fresh smart lockdowns in parts of the country with the highest positivity rate and launched crackdowns against businesses violating COVID-19 SOPs.

On Wednesday, the country's worst-hit southern Sindh province decided to re-impose restrictions on indoor dining, cinemas, gyms, recreational centers and schools, directing public transporters to operate with 50 percent of occupancy.

Naveed Rashid, an Islamabad-based public health expert, told Xinhua that the COVID-19 cases in the country are increasing rapidly, yet a casual attitude of common citizens is being noticed, which could lead the country towards a catastrophic situation.

"The blatant violation of SOPs, vaccine hesitancy due to misconceptions, and new variants of the virus are the major reasons behind the resurgence of the disease," he said.

Rashid said the Delta variant is spreading fast across the country and is the biggest concern at the moment as the new variant has wreaked havoc in other countries.

"With the big increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the hospitals across the country have seen increased inflow of patients over the last few days," the health expert said, adding that if the situation remains, it could push the hospitals and staff to the limit.

Humayun Iqbal Shami, chairman of the Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Economic Forum, said the upward trajectory of coronavirus infections would not only have its adverse impacts on the country's healthcare system but would also affect the national economy.

The economic activities were disturbed due to nationwide lockdowns in the country last year and the Pakistani people, especially the lower strata of the society bore the brunt of COVID-19 triggered lockdowns the most, Shami told Xinhua.

"We cannot take this anymore considering the economic situation of Pakistan. People must follow the basic precautions of wearing masks, observing social distancing, and other rules to keep the economy afloat," he said. Enditem