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Editorial: Don’t loosen up yet!

In spite of the fact that COVID-19 is spreading swiftly and unabated across the country, people are gradually becoming careless and reckless. The recent figures show that Afghanistan recorded a single-day highest number of positive coronavirus cases and deaths from the disease. At least 414 new cases and 17 deaths from the virus have been reported round-the-clock, taking the nation’s tally to a staggering 6,058. It means Afghanistan is far from the so-called ‘flattening the curve’ phase, partly because the lockdown appears to exist merely in name now. Thousands of people still come out of their homes in capital Kabul as the lockdown is seemingly relaxed. In provinces, markets and shops are gradually getting to normal as if the virus and its threat were things of the past. The practice of social-distancing, mask-wearing and general precautions are slowly fading away – unwittingly to the detriment of people. The current situation is already serious and the recent reports suggest that the situation will get even worse. Considering the circumstances, it should be impressed upon the Afghan masses that Afghanistan is still far from out of the woods, and the next few weeks could be critical. They should understand that the threat of the disease hasn’t vanished yet – if anything, it’s rapidly on the rise. Thus, the government should continue effective awareness campaigns and avoid loosening the lockdown rules as of yet. There is no room for relaxation – at least given the current situation – and instead, the quarantine restrictions should be made further rigorous so that at least the positive cases registered on a daily basis are reined in. The government cannot afford to take the gamble of relaxing lockdown rules as it’s not worth the risk. Provided the cases and deaths continue to climb at this rate, it’s not unreasonable to say that the results will be disastrous. The government and people should realize it’s not the time to start taking the virus for granted. Healthcare lessons should be learned from some of the highly sophisticated and developed countries such as the US where cases are hovering in millions – when they couldn’t cope with the virus then Afghanistan doesn’t stand a chance. Parts of the world are indeed beginning to emerge from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic as they fought safely and had their fair share of the virus but we aren’t there yet. Therefore, we cannot loosen up because we still have a long way to go – and possibly many lives to loose – before we arrive there. At this juncture, the government should focus its resources on ramping up testing because it’s still likely that the number of cases may well be higher than reported so far.

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