Backtracking on restrictions is still dangerous

Fahed Khitan (Photo: JNews)
Epidemiologists say that we have reached the peak of the second COVID-19 wave, and are on track for a drop in the number of infections, and more importantly, the rate of positive tests.اضافة اعلان

However, we are still generally in the danger zone, considering the high number of daily deaths, with infection cases in the thousands, and no less than 3,000 hospitalized patients.

The slight drop in new cases and positivity rate, along with encouragement from physicians and officials, has tempted some sectors to demand a reduction in curfew hours and the opening of certain sectors before the month of Ramadan.

The government had announced a set of stricter measures, effective until mid-May, based on predictions and forecasts related to the epidemiological curve and containing the vicious wave. The implementation of these measures has contributed to containing the spread of the virus, despite the doubts put forward by those affected, as well as some doctors, without providing any evidence to support such doubts.

Any midway backtracking on the plan means returning to the starting line. This is what we have learned from our experience last year, as well as from the experiences of other countries that preceded us in imposing strict lockdowns only to reopen prematurely.

Over the next six weeks, we need to intensify vaccination campaigns, considering the expected arrival of large vaccine shipments, to ensure the safety of vulnerable segments of the population, as well as the workforce in vital sectors such as tourism and services, so we can ensure safe conditions with the start of the summer.

Businesspeople and workers in the various sectors must realize that rushing the lifting of restrictions might result in better economic activity in the short term, but the relapse will be disastrous, causing losses in the medium term.

We know that the drop in the number of cases and deaths will render many complacent, but we, and officials particularly, must not be fooled, because the optimistic statements currently being made on the improvement of the country’s health situation are being employed to pressure government authorities to lift restrictions ahead of schedule.

Countries that have done well in their vaccination campaigns are demonstrating extreme caution regarding the lifting of restrictions, and are trying to plan their next steps careful to avoid any setbacks.

In a tourist-reliant country such as Turkey, the government is taking stringent decisions during Ramadan to prevent the wide spread of the virus, prohibiting the holding of prayers and closing entertainment venues.

In Jordan, we have an excellent chance of blocking a third wave, since we have reached a high rate of temporary immunity and regularized the vaccination program. If we maintain our compliance for the next six weeks, or the next five to be more specific, we will be able to transition to the recovery stage and return to normal life.

A bit of patience will spare us the heavy losses.