The country may be headed for “a second wave” of the Covid-19 amid non-observance of anti-coronavirus measures, the Pakistan Medical Association has said. “Pakistan is currently at risk of a second wave of coronavirus infections,” announced the PMA, adding that data from countries already experiencing a second wave shows a more severe impact of the virus. It expressed concerns over the possibility of a similar situation in Pakistan amid growing infections.

The cases in Sindh are leading in number — 625 in the last 24 hours up from 543 the day before, with 361 from Sindh alone — as the people have stopped exercising caution. “It is important that special care is taken in primary and pre-primary schools,” stated the announcement. It reminded the country that the virus has not yet been eliminated and safety precautions must be taken at all times.

Rise in COVID cases

Cases had dropped to a range of 100-200 per day by the latter half of September, but an upward trend can clearly be noticed now with daily cases ranging from 600 to 700. Doctors and experts are locating the reason for this rise in the reopening of schools, universities and business centres.

Millions of students in Pakistan returned to classes on Tuesday after a break of six months, as schools and colleges began to reopen for the first time since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Educational institutes were closed in March as the coronavirus started to spread in Pakistan, but, with daily infection numbers falling, the government last week announced a staggered resumption of classes.

According to the National Command and Operations Centre, Pakistan’s Covid-19 tally rose to 304,386 after the detection of these cases in the past 24 hours with nine patients losing their lives to the virus.

Presiding over the daily meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said marriage halls and restaurants were becoming primary sources for the spread of Covid-19, adding the spike could be avoided if standard operating procedures (SOPs) were complied with. However, he appreciated the education sector for its adherence to health guidelines and protocols.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had warned on Sunday that a rise in Covid-19 infections could be expected in winter.

Millions of students in Pakistan returned to classes on Tuesday after a break of six months, as schools and colleges began to reopen for the first time since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Educational institutes were closed in March as the coronavirus started to spread in Pakistan, but, with daily infection numbers falling, the government last week announced a staggered resumption of classes.

Even though Asad Umar appreciated the education sector for its adherence to health guidelines and protocol, the government shut down some institutes. Authorities shut down at least 22 educational institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad and Azad Kashmir in the past 48 hours over their failure to comply with anti-coronavirus Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

“During the last 48 hours, 22 educational institutions across Pakistan have been closed due to non-compliance of health SOPs/protocols and disease prevalence,” said a statement by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) issued on Wednesday.

According to the statement, 16 of these educational institutions were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one in Islamabad, and five in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier in the week, a major medical college in the federal capital was sealed after 16 Covid-19 cases were reported among students and employees.

Exporting Health Staff in a Pandemic?

Kuwait plans to recruit health workers from Pakistan and other countries, as it will soon be headed towards the second wave of infections as well. Gulf News reported that the health ministry would ask for the assistance of health workers specialised in pulmonary diseases from foreign countries. The first batch of these doctors and nurses will come from Pakistan and will arrive ‘in the next few weeks’ as soon as the formalities are completed. The report further said that Kuwait has previously recruited medical workers from Cuba and Jordan.

With a falling economy, little trade and no remittances, the government has a lack of foreign reserves and would welcome this move. This would allow health workers to send remittances or the government would be paid directly in a deal with Kuwait. No matter the specifics of the exchange one thing remains clear; the government will seize this chance to inject foreign currency in the local market.

Pakistan’s fragile health system could barely handle the first wave, and that too was successful because of government lockdowns and a lower rate of infection. The second wave may show a different pattern with a lack of lockdowns and higher social interactions, in such a case, how wise is the decision to reduce health workers available to the Pakistani population?

The author works as a sub-editor at The Correspondent, focusing on Student Politics, Social issues and International Relations.

The author works as a sub-editor at The Correspondent, focusing on Student Politics, Social issues and International Relations.

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