The second wave of COVID-19 is getting more intense with every passing day. Cases are spiking; health officials are reporting an increase in deaths due to the virus. More than four hundred new patients tested positive in Islamabad and Rawalpindi alone in 24 hours on Thursday. The spread is not limited to the twin cities; the virus is getting more aggressive all over the country. One hundred and thirty cases in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) in 24 hours—the highest ever figure recorded since the pandemic hit the region—testifies the seriousness of the situation.

The speed with which coronavirus is spreading suggests that the government is failing in mitigating the unfolding public health emergency. Our efforts to control the second wave are not enough. Moreover, people, despite witnessing the disastrous effects of the virus previously, are not showing any care. Our approach to deal with the virus is not tenable at all, and the threat is all the more worrisome, considering that cold weather leads to increased threat from viral-borne infections.

Winters in other parts of the world restrict people to their homes. In Pakistan, however, winters are awaited eagerly to hold outdoor activities and public gatherings, primarily marriages. Therefore, the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) must advise the government to implement a complete ban on all public meetings as soon as possible.

Besides, the officials are not imposing smart lockdowns as rigorously as they should. Sealing one or two buildings is not a smart lockdown, nor is closing a street, only for allowing a side exit for residents to come and go as they please. This has been witnessed in the many streets in lockdown in Islamabad. We managed to bring the virus under control when we had no experience of how to deal with it. It will be a shame if we let the virus affect public life now that we know more about it. We must not allow the virus to claim more lives and impose an unimaginable burden on our health infrastructure and economy.