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Dangerous third Covid-19 has been alarming jump in positive cases

with the most recent figures released by the NCOC showing a national positivity rate of approximately 10pc. Reports coming from Islamabad and Punjab, too, are worrying. This week, the capital recorded the highest number of single-day positive cases since the pandemic started, while Lahore has persistently reported more than 60pc of the positive cases in Punjab.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, too, has tested positive, a worrying development that underscores how rampantly the virus is spreading. It is important for the government to send a strong, unambiguous message that Mr Khan’s vaccination two days prior to his Covid-19 test in no way means the vaccine is not effective. In fact, as Minister Asad Umar clarified, it is certain that the prime minister was infected before being vaccinated — a very likely scenario given that Mr Khan was seen at events and meetings that week without a face covering.

His testing positive for Covid-19 will fuel vaccine scepticism, and it is imperative the government make it clear when and how the vaccine takes effect and that caution is still necessary.As cases rapidly climb, there is speculation that a national lockdown is being considered. Given the spike in positivity, increased hospital admissions and several patients in critical care, this may be inevitable. But it is important to understand that it was avoidable. The past few months have marked a shocking and careless approach to the spread of the virus, as the country’s public gatherings and commercial activities were allowed to resume at full throttle.

Prevention protocols, especially wearing a face covering, are ignored even by some key government figures — a deeply disappointing reality given how fast the new Covid-19 strain is known to spread. How can the authorities expect members of the public to be responsible and observe SOPs if they themselves are not strict about following them? It is time for officials to go beyond appeals and caution about Covid-19 prevention.

They must enforce a strict SOP mandate — one that even top officials are not exempt from. At the same time, they must encourage people to get vaccinated and be transparent and accessible when it comes to sharing information about vaccine data. Fearmongering and anti-vaccination sentiment in the country are a reality that the government must strive to overcome with an effective communication strategy. Failure to do so will come at an enormous price

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