Covid news

Editorial Board
Monday, May 08, 2023

The WHO has declared that Covid-?19, the pandemic which killed at least 6.9 million people around the globe along with other infectious diseases, should no longer be considered a global health emergency. The WHO has noted that the true figure for the death toll was ‘likely’ closer to 20 million deaths – nearly three times the official estimate – and that the virus remained a significant threat and it is now the business of individual countries to deal with cases which fell under their territory. The US had earlier this year already declared an end to the pandemic and this also means that free vaccines and other assistance will no longer be available after May 11. It may be noted that soon after China abandoned precautionary measures against Covid-?19 it saw a sudden surge in cases.

Covid-19 has been a global emergency for over three years. That now comes to an end as across the world the number of cases has fallen from a peak of more than 100,000 people per week in January 2021 to just over 3,500 on April 24. Pakistan was one of the luckier countries as the virus took relatively few bodies (though some say the official death toll may be the victim of some underreporting). Even now we do not know how many Covid cases occur each day because of a lack of testing and lack of awareness notably in rural areas. It is believed that some variant of the virus is still present in parts of the country, according to local news and health experts dealing with infectious disease.

The end of the Covid-?19 virus and the global emergency it caused, since the Spanish flu many decades before, should, however, not be something that leads to complacency. Now that it falls on individual vigilance, it is even more important to reiterate to people that the virus is very much around – and could even continue to mutate – and that any indication of it should lead to an attempt at minimum isolation, testing, vaccination (if not done before). As the head of the WHO says: “The worst thing any country can do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about.” Already, Pakistan has not managed to eliminate the polio virus from its land, being the only country other than Afghanistan that has 0 not eradicated the disease. And that’s not all. Globally as well climate change is apparently set to unleash even more horror, with scientists warning that as polar ice caps melt due to global warming new viruses will be coming our way perhaps from zoological or biological sources as humans move closer to areas that have not before seen people live within them and the globe changes rapidly putting us all risk in many different ways. Water scarcity is another threat as is famine in other countries, all of which contribute to death due to infectious disease as we see in our country and in so many others in the underdeveloped world. While we can heave a sigh of relief that the nightmare that was the peak of Covid-?19 may have come to an end, vigilance remains important as does a continuous search for ways to make this world less frightening for future generations.