While the G20’s decision to extend debt relief for countries like Pakistan for another six months is fortunate news, the accelerating rate of corona transmission across the nation, as highlighted by Asad Umar, should cause alarm. Overall, COVID-19 positivity rates have gone up to 2.37 percent, the highest in more than two months. As public fear and precaution dissipates, the risk of a second wave looms over 103 districts, which have been subjected to yet another round of smart lockdowns across the country. If we fail to proceed with caution, matters could get much worse for Pakistan.

According to the Federal Minister for Planning, areas like Karachi, Muzaffarabad, Islamabad and Lahore are highly susceptible to deadly outbreaks once again, especially in light of the fact that the average number of deaths over the course of this week has been 11—the highest since August 10. To understate the status quo, neglecting protective procedures or delaying action against the containment of the pandemic would come at a cost that the country cannot afford to pay. Already, our international economic standing has taken a hit, inflation continues to rise, debt remains a major barrier against prosperity and debt relief is rendered useless due to the implementation of lockdowns, and subsequently the halt in business activity, once again. While we may have acted with appropriate caution before, there is much to be desired currently.

The only way we can relieve the pressure off of government institutions, and the state as a whole, is through actions that are mindful of an unfavourable future, born out of our carelessness, that may lay ahead in the future. This entails acknowledging the urgency of the matter, adhering to the rules of the lockdowns, following procedural guidelines established by authorities, modifying behaviour so that transmission is limited and conforming to the Trace, Test and Quarantine (TTQ) strategy in case of suspected diagnosis. This is the least we can do if we want to benefit from things like debt suspension.