Learning to live with Covid-19


China’s two biggest cities — Beijing and Shanghai — have tightened Covid-19 curbs in recent weeks, raising new fears as the battle to contain the virus continues.

With an aim to detect and isolate infections early enough to avoid mass closures and movement curbs, China seeks to avoid any infection spikes as summer approaches.

Elsewhere, low Covid-19 cases in Middle East, US and European countries in recent weeks have resulted in less hospitalisation. Death rates have also been down, leading to an easing of pandemic restrictions in many countries.

While countries are at the earlier stages in the pandemic’s trajectory, many sections of the population continue to be vulnerable to the Covid-19 infection.

The thing with any pandemic is that it is not really over until it is over everywhere. Nations need to make sure that measures like controlling transmission, regardless of emerging variants, is strictly adhered to.

The world is now entering the third year of the pandemic. With summer here, it may even be tempting for exhausted societies to be lax and drop their guard. We must be wary of such attitudes.

As we have seen, the surge of the highly transmissible omicron variant a few months ago resulted in a huge spike in cases.

Largely successful vaccination drives have kept hospital intensive care units manageable and case-fatality rates down. In many places now, widespread Covid-19 testing, the use of masks and physical distancing requirements have helped stem the spike.

However, new estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the Covid-19 pandemic — described as “excess mortality” — between January 2020 and December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million, much higher than reported numbers. That is a very sobering thought.

The current receding of infection and cases does not mean that the virus has disappeared. We are not yet at the pre-pandemic levels.

While most restrictions have been lifted, it is incumbent upon all of us, all nations, to maintain vigil, protect our vulnerable and stay ahead of the virus’ path.