The country’s economy has hit rock bottom, negative 10 percent growth rate, inflation is at all-time high and jobs are hard to find. Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the pressure on the government to open the borders and let economic activities return to normal is growing.
The private sector and its representatives are knocking at the government’s door. They want the decision-makers to ease the supply chain disruptions caused by the restrictions imposed, from mandatory quarantines to transshipments of goods that is driving the cost of goods and services. Some are citing examples of a few countries letting infection attain herd immunity rather than through vaccination. Many are convinced that with the availability of new antiviral pills and with 86 percent of the population vaccinated, Covid-19 will not be life-threatening even if we see it in the community.
Amidst all these concerns and speculation, the Prime Minister has come with a reminder of our vulnerability and not letting our guards down, blinded by the zero infection in the community for about three months. The reminder comes even as countries from the US to Europe and Asia see a sudden surge in new infections. It is the fourth wave for some.
For long, and months after the last case, we have managed well, largely because of the restrictions that are still in place. However, that we have not reported a case outside the quarantine facility for months is a false sense of security. Knowing the disease, it takes one case in the community to lockdown the country, partially or entirely. And with the start of winter, the favourable weather for the virus to transmit, we are equally at a greater risk.
When we look back, a lot of restrictions are lifted. This we can see at the sports ground, entertainment centres and big gatherings at celebrations. When there is not a single case, we become confident and take it for granted. The message is that we have to be prepared at all times until Covid-19 becomes just another of the many endemic diseases.
We have fought the pandemic well so far. Now we have to adjust to the new realities – living with restrictions is one.
The choice is about lives and livelihoods. We have, thus far, focused on lives, but without ignoring livelihoods. The fiscal and monetary policies, the Royal Kidus have offset the burden on both those who are severely affected and those who were not.
As we wait for the new year with hope and expectation, our actions will determine how we enter into 2022. Being complacent or forgetting the threats of the viral disease will ruin our plans, hopes and expectations for the new year.
It is always better to be prepared. For we say prevention is better than cure!