The number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan has risen at an alarming rate since the government has opened the lockdown. With an average of more than 100 deaths and around 7000 daily cases, Pakistan continues to exhibit a high positivity rate of 24% — above the required level of 5% — while the surveillance system to trace contacts is weak.
In a recent letter, World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Pakistan is not meeting any of the prerequisites for opening the lockdown because the cases have jumped to 125,900 with 2463 deaths, bringing Pakistan in the list of top 10 most affected COVID-19 countries in the world.
Peak has not hit the country yet, as only 809,169 people out of total population of 22 million have so far been tested for coronavirus.
Pakistan needs to take tough policies to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods. There needs to be a comprehensive and coherent federal policy to enforce SOPs across the country, setting aside political differences in the country
The situation is quite gloomy when it comes to public awareness as most people are unwilling to adapt to changes and do not follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
WHO also warned that country needs to take strategic decisions to implement public health measures that ensure economic prosperity, human rights, and food security.
It recommended the policy of intermittent lockdown — two weeks-on and two weeks-off lockdown — as it will help the most chance of continuing economic activities while ensuring public health.
Nevertheless, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan does not fully agree with WHO’s warnings. Instead, he said that the country was saved because a complete and extended lockdown was not enforced. He believed that the situation in Pakistan is a lot better than other parts of the world.
Imran says that more people will die of hunger than COVID-19 infection because of lack of economic activities. More than 2/3rd of the 220 million people in the country depend on daily incomes. The country, the prime minister says, has taken a sovereign decision in the best interest of its people.
Agreed, but Pakistan needs to take tough policies to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods. There needs to be a comprehensive and coherent federal policy to enforce SOPs across the country, setting aside political differences in the country.
With limited hospital resources and strained health care system, Pakistan must take tough measures to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic. The best way to do this is to follow the recommendations of the WHO and create public awareness.
Pakistan should also diligently implement its policy of smart lockdowns, and follow a robust tracing, testing and quarantine policy to stem the spread of deadly virus without taking any risks.