Commuters wearing face-masks ride on a bike. PHOTO: AFP

Karachi fears fourth wave ahead of Eid

If Covid-19 cases increase and people delay vaccinations, there will be no option left but to re-impose restrictions

Aamir Khan July 08, 2021

Despite three waves of coronavirus and a fourth feared to be on the horizon, the people of Karachi appear to have become desensitised to the deadly virus. SOPs are flouted left, right and centre, while the bustling city appears as though it has long defeated the pandemic. The government on the other hand, after several incremental lockdowns and flailing economy, is now mulling to reopen the financial capital in a plucky move to resume normalcy.

Seeing the condition on ground, medical experts however fear that the city of 20 million could be on a road to ruin, where rapidly multiplying cases could once again paralyse the local healthcare system if guidelines are not followed.

In response to which, the Sindh government has implied that if cases continue to increase and people delay vaccinations, there would be no option left but to re-impose the restrictions in a bid to save the city from yet another health crisis.

Where earlier spells of the virus had triggered some kind of a precautionary response from the citizens, the third wave seems to have left people too used to of the pandemic. Despite climbing cases, mosques, bazaars and public places continue to remain abuzz till late hours in the mega city, while social-distancing appears be a long forgotten concept.

According to a survey conducted by The Express Tribune, areas including Kemari, Maripur, Sher Shah, SITE, Orangi Town, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, New Karachi, Sohrab Goth, Federal B Area, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Malir, Landhi, Korangi, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Mahmoodabad, Lines Area, Saddar, Liaquatabad, PIB, Garden, Ranchhorline and Kharadar, have emerged as most notorious for flouting coronavirus SOPs.

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Public places like Mosques, Banks and Bazaars which had initially installed sanitiser gates have now removed them, while the no-mask-no-entry policy which had been introduced in private offices, malls and restaurants also appears to have fizzled out.

On the contrary however, up-scale localities like Defense Housing Authority and Clifton have been more cautious about following SOPs and health guidelines.

Social activist Imran Ul Haq still maintains that that despite greater precautions, vaccination rates have still been low in the city’s suburbs. “The reason for this is lack of effective awareness campaigns in the suburbs, where misinformation still shapes public opinion.”

As for small businesses in residential areas, Haq opined that you will find shopkeepers do not wear masks and buyers do not comply with SOPs either. “Which is how we know that the pandemic isn’t leaving this city anytime soon,” he added.

Talking about the impending fourth wave of the virus, the social activist said that considering Eidul Azha holidays are around the corner, there is a high possibility that the cases will jump by the end of this month if people are not extra cautious. “Animal markets, which people throng by tens and thousands, could become a hot bed for the virus.

Pakistan Medical Association Secretary General Professor Dr Qaiser Sajjad said that the fourth wave of coronavirus could be more dangerous as new strains of the virus emerge. Despite being vaccinated, we must be careful. “Wear a mask, keep social distance and be particularly cautious during Eid holidays,” he advised.

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said that the provincial government has been trying to provide vaccines to people across the province including Karachi, for which various measures are being taken.

“We have to acknowledge that if cases sky rocket, saving lives will be the government’s first priority. In that cases, we will have to suspend economic activities and re-impose sanctions. So I urge people to take precautions, if we are to stay in the clear,” he told The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2021.


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