A few days after the head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and Federal Minister Asad Umar warned that a fourth wave of Covid-19 could possibly occur in July if precautionary measures are not adhered to, the NCOC has removed further Covid-19-related restrictions from July 1 to 31 in view of significant drop in new cases, which would amount to nearly full resumption of normal life in the country.
The forum allowed indoor and outdoor dining till midnight subject to fifty percent occupancy for indoor dining and that too for vaccinated individuals, extension of business hours till 10.00 p.m., round-the-clock opening of essential services, indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies and reopening of cinemas and shrines.
There is, no doubt, a marked improvement in Covid-19 situation – thanks to the well-thought-out strategy of the Government including vaccination of the citizens at a fast pace.
Most of the sectors and services were already operating as usual and drop in Corona cases despite lifting of major curbs justified removal of restrictions on remaining sectors that were agitating against curbs that affected their activities creating economic and financial woes for all those associated with them.
However, lifting of some of the restrictions seems to be uncalled for like reopening of cinema and shrines where, experience shows, people hardly observe safety protocols.
Similarly, the decision to review the inbound flights from previous to the existing level of 80% reduction to 40% of the total volume is also not understandable especially when some new variants of the virus are forcing many countries to extend ban inbound flights.
Pakistan is lucky enough to have escaped lethal variants in three previous waves but normal flight operations would expose the country to serious risks especially when there are not enough proper arrangements in place to quarantine passengers or carry out instant testing.
There are also some other issues that need urgent attention of the authorities concerned including prompt issuance of vaccination certificate (which is delayed because of lack of coordination between health staff and NADRA as well as inability of the NADRA to upgrade its records).
The system should be streamlined as production of vaccination certificate is now a requirement for citizens on different occasions.
What happened at a vaccination centre in Islamabad on Monday should also be a source of immediate concern for the Government as hundreds of people aspiring to visit abroad overwhelmed the staff and smashed glass doors to get inside for a shot.
Their grievance is genuine especially in the case of those who work abroad and require a shot of a vaccine that is acceptable to the host country.
Apart from making such vaccines available in adequate numbers, the Government should prioritize taking up the issue with all such countries so as to alleviate sufferings of those working abroad as they are precious assets as far as earning of foreign exchange is concerned.