Lingering after-effects of Covid



March 28, 2022

Lingering after-effects of Covid


Hoor Asrar details the perils of a harrowing pandemic

Though it is becoming evident by the day that the Lingering after-effects of Covid case numbers are plummeting and people are trying to come out of the fear aroused by the pandemic. It is very well-known that Covid-19 had created tremendous problems for the human race and its variants are still emerging one after the other causing further distress. The incessant spread of the virus had badly damaged the global economy and the IMF has recently confirmed this situation by stating that the Delta variant has weakened recovery. Since the beginning of the virus more than two years ago, governments around the world are compelled to remain vigilant about the disease and keep on monitoring the situation. Many health experts still advise wearing of masks and avoid close personal contact.
However, two years after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic, changing the world overnight, relief and hope are creeping back in after a long, dark period of loss, fear and deep uncertainty about the future. It was 11 March, 2020 when the WHO issued its declaration, driving home the severity of the threat faced by a virus that at that point had wreaked havoc primarily in Italy and China. Though there were few cases of infection at this point in time but soon the situation changed for the worse and reality was starting to sink in: stocks tanked, classrooms started closing and people began donning masks.
Since then, more than 6 million people have died globally, nearly 1 million in the US. Millions have been thrown out of work, students have endured three school years of disruptions. The emergence of the vaccine in December 2021 saved countless lives but political divisions, hesitancy and inequality in health systems have kept millions of people around the world from getting inoculated, prolonging the pandemic. This difficulty was more pronounced in the developing world and the worse scenario was faced by Africa that still suffers lack of vaccines despite wide global disapproval of this lacuna.
The world is finally emerging from a brutal stretch of winter dominated by the highly contagious omicron variant, bringing a sense of relief on the two-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic. It is widely recorded that hospitalisations of people with Covid-19 have plummeted 80% in the last few weeks across since a mid-January pandemic peak, dropping to the lowest levels since July 2021. Case counts have followed the same trend line to the lowest counts since last summer as well. Even the death tally, which typically lags behind cases and hospitalisations, has slowed significantly in the last month. In its latest pandemic report, the WHO said infections and deaths are down across the globe, with only one region — the Western Pacific — seeing a rise in cases. The Middle East and Africa saw cases drop by 46% and 40%, respectively.
Another positive study reported that the omicron wave and vaccinations have left enough people with protection against the coronavirus that future spikes will likely require much less disruption to society, experts say. Nowhere is the shift in the pandemic more apparent than in the hospitals, where critical care units were previously overflowing with desperately ill-patients just months ago. The severity of the pandemic still brings horrors as during the bleakest days of the pandemic compelled doctors and nurses to work around the clock and did not go home because they were afraid of bringing the virus back with them. At one point during the summer 2020 spike, it was recorded that hospitals became short of beds and many patients did not get proper treatment.
Fortunately now the pandemic has eased to the point where many hospitals the world over have not received patients for days on end. The additional advantage is that medical staff feels more prepared to treat the disease with the knowledge gained in those darkest days. Still, many are traumatised by the raw memories of the past two years and will never be the same but they are trying to shake off the bad memories. Despite the clearly visible relief many find it hard to use the word normal because they are convinced that the world will ever get back to a pre-Covid state. It is widely reported that people are adapting and are moving forward though mask mandates, vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 measures are being eliminated everywhere. Despite the relief many people are still skeptical and health experts around the country are consistently advising caution.
Many infectious disease experts and epidemiologist acknowledge that the pandemic has receded considerably and it is certainly good news but they cautioned against any victory declarations, especially with the potential of another variant lurking around the corner. They emphasise that new variants keep on emerging and those new variants fuel large epidemic waves. The big question is whether these variants are they going to be as mild or less severe as omicron or they may prove potentially more severe. The most difficult aspect is that there is hardly any chance of predicting definitely about it. People are heading back to movie theaters, restaurants and gyms after a long, dark winter and outdoor places are filling up once more and many people now feel rather unrestrained in going out.
Many indoor facilities were driven out of business but with things getting back to normal these businesses are picking up and more and more people are enjoying their lives. People point out that sometimes things have got to get worse before they get better and in this case this dictum has proved absolutely spot on. The fear on the faces of people when they lined up by the thousands to be tested during the late 2020 surge that triggered an astonishing number of infections and subsequent deaths is now slowly disappearing with people having more confidence in the efficacy of vaccine treatments. People however still remember that infections raced out of control for weeks and the number of people lining up for hospital admissions stretched by the day. The creaky healthcare network of Pakistan practically caved in with doctors across the country appealing for locking down the country.
People can clearly sense relief though not everyone is ready to dive back in. Many remember last year when mask rules eased and Covid-19 seemed to be loosening its grip only to come roaring back as the delta and omicron variants took hold. People are quite cautious in the urban areas of the country though many people in Pakistan had remained rather unconcerned about the deathly prospects of contracting the virus. Wearing mask has become almost a second nature for many people who take no chances despite assurances to the contrary. It is very clear that the lingering effects of the pandemic may take very long to rest and for many life would not be the same as was before the deadly virus struck. People now feel encouraged to travel more and the airline industry is picking up again after facing its worst crisis. Despite improving prospects the anxiety remains always round the corner as common cold has taken radically different dimension that will haunt the human race for a long time to come. TW

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Hoor Asrar Rauf has remained a national swimming champion and recently Graduated from UCF-USA in Hospitality and Event Management


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