India covid test
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) collects a swab sample from a person during a rapid antigen testing campaign for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Gandhinagar, India Image Credit: Reuters

We are a year into this pandemic and it is easy to see why some might suffer fatigue when it comes to fighting coronavirus. But we cannot afford to let our guard down as we enter the final stretch and vaccines are being administered to tens of thousands of people daily.

The rapidly growing number of new infections serves as a stark and potent reminder that there can be no let up as we strive to come out the other side of this grave public health emergency.

Over the past week, the numbers of cases have been growing in many parts of the globe, including India and Pakistan. Both nations are introducing new measures to once more turn back the tide and ensure that whatever regulatory, physical, social or medical barriers can be put in place to impede the virus and its mutations.

In the Punjab state of India night curfew has been imposed across several districts, and officials in Maharashtra state reported 23,179 of the country’s 35,871 new cases in just 24 hours, and the rapid spread in industrial areas raised risks of companies’ production being disrupted.

Officials in Pakistan, meanwhile, said the rise in cases might be linked to the highly contagious UK mutation taking hold. Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar noted that hospital beds were filling fast, and warned of stricter curbs if rules were not fully followed.

These increases are alarming and have spurred Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meeting with chief ministers to underline the importance of getting back to basics in fighting this pandemic.

It’s important for everyone to remember that getting back to basics means wearing masks, maintaining social distance, following public health guidelines and observing simple measures such as handwashing and using hand sanitisers.

We are now in a position where vaccines are coming on stream and are being rolled out around the world. These jabs offer the hope that we will again be able to resume our lives almost as normal. Key to this is getting as many people as possible and as soon as possible vaccinated. Anyone who can get a vaccine has a moral duty to do so. There is no alternative — literally, our lives depend on it.