Amidst the despairing figures of Coronavirus cases in Pakistan, WHO’s warning came in with a major blow that the virus may never go away. There are daily updates by World Health Organization (WHO) regarding Covid-19 and its startling facts for scientists and researchers. The global health spokesperson for WHO, Dr. Michael Ryan, on 13th May blew the hopes when he suggested that based on research till date, the pandemic of Covid-19 might turn into an endemic that will hang around for years.
Global Ease in Lockdown
The news is received with much anger and anguish by public while countries prepare for retracting on any lenient approaches to lockdown taken in past few days. During last two weeks, several economies have started easing down lockdown with reduced number of daily cases flattening the curve. Germany, New Zealand, USA, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Canada and many other developed nations announced opening of businesses and even schools with strict SOPs.
However, countries like Germany and Saudi Arabia saw an immediate surge in Covid-19 cases which infection rates 3 times higher than before and virus reproduction rate beyond 1.
Despite government’s will to apply emergency brakes on lockdown ease, there is a growing agitation among masses against the lockdown. A huge number of global protests have emerged since start of April in USA, Germany, UK, France which has forced governments to continue ease in lockdown. The unemployed individuals in US alone are reaching millions in number and are expected to cross 35 million soon. Under the recent statement by WHO, one may wonder how long any phase of lockdown can continue in developed countries, let alone the less privileged world.
Pakistan fails to Implement Effective Smart Lockdown Strategy
During the month of March, Prime Minister Imran Khan introduced the term Smart Lockdown instead of complete lockdown to deal with coronavirus and economic crisis. The idea of smart lockdown was to keep the wheel of economy moving due to unpredictable nature of virus and its less severity in Pakistan.
As global economies, after months of lockdown moved towards reopening of economies, the theory of Imran Khan seemed more far sighted and sensible, especially for weak economy of Pakistan. However, since start of May 2020, as government eased the lockdown, there has been a sharp rise in number of Covid-19 cases in Pakistan with current cases reaching above 35,000.
Read More: Live Update on Covid-19 cases in Pakistan
The whole debate of performance of Federal, Punjab, KPK or Sindh government is a waste of time now. The effects of ease in lockdown turned out to be a nightmare for Government, Health Ministry and Healthcare system of Pakistan as public plainly ridiculed the SOPs issued by National Institute of Health (NIH) and provincial governments last week.
The Prime Minister has already warned the public against complete lockdown if they fail to comply with government’s instructions regarding precautions and safety measures.
What should be Pakistan’s Plan of Action if Covid-19 stays?
What Pakistan needs is a unified strategy to deal with Covid-19 as if it will remain an endemic. There are several reasons to treat Covid-19 as part of life and keep economy running. Firstly, the virus is mutating at rapid speed and there is no certainty of developing the accurate vaccine for at least remaining part of this year. This is emphasized by several scientists and researchers including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci who clarified in U.S. Senate that he has no hope that vaccine would be ready in time for new school year at least. Similarly, Bill Gates also claimed that the vaccine may take up to two years to be ready.
Secondly, establishing one notion against the virus will help clear the confusion among provinces which in turn is affecting the general public’s perception regarding its severity. Considering Covid-19 as a serious threat on national level, federal government needs to take following actions:
- Government needs to invest heavily in TV, internet and in person marketing to create awareness regarding new lifestyle that we have to embrace if we want to stay safe and let the economy run.
- Strict administrative actions under unified policy by government is required against markets, companies, mosques and any kind of workplaces that fail to follow the SOPs issued.
- Masks should be made compulsory for each and every individual stepping out of house and needs to be distributed free of charge by traffic police, security police, volunteers from Corona Tiger Force, and NGOs.
- Since Pakistan is becoming self-sufficient in safety equipment against the virus in recent reports, hand sanitizers and soaps should be placed by district government in all main markets and people should be encouraged to use them as entering markets.
- Several Federal and provincial government help lines should be made functional to report places, personnel and institutions that fail in implementing SOPs for Covid-19.
- There should be a unified penalty approach among provinces towards breaking law of social distancing and personal protective gear like masks to avoid any confusion in public.