Back in late May during the deadliest phase of the pandemic, there were a lot of troubling firsts and highs recorded—the first time COVID-19 cases exceeded 10,000, highest recorded cases in a day and so on. As the summers came and smart policies were put in place, these numbers fell and thankfully, some normalcy seemed to ensue.

Unfortunately, now in November, these highs and firsts have seemed to make a comeback, as once again statistics show a worrying picture. Pakistan on Thursday reported 18 deaths in the last 24 hours by coronavirus as the number of positive cases has surged to 365,927, with the nationwide tally of fatalities has jumped to 7,248. The daily positivity rate of COVID-19 cases in the capital reached 11.78 percent on Tuesday, the highest since the outbreak of the virus in March. These are highs not recorded since March, indicating that the second wave is truly back in full swing in Pakistan, and this time, seems determined to stay unless measures are not taken.

Unlike last time, the government’s efforts to control the virus look to be futile as cases keep rising in every major city. Perhaps this is a sign that while the first wave and a global panic around the virus ensured that people took the lockdown much more seriously, this time SOPs are not being followed with the same grit. The government has implemented much more lax restrictions compared to last time—as wedding season arrives, the government has allowed 300 guests per outdoor wedding—this is an exceedingly large number of guests allowed during a pandemic. In the capital, fines for violating SOPs remain low, leading to a general attitude of carelessness towards the gravity of the pandemic.

We need to take a look at our neighbour India, the second worst hit country, and its capital Delhi, where the number of deaths is so high that demand for more graveyards has shot up. This could very well become us if the government does not get serious—use stricter fines to get the public to comply with restrictions. This is a crucial stage.