If you were to take 30 steps from your local market, with each succeeding step twice as large as the previous one, do you have any idea how far you could reach? Think about it!
Okay, let me give you the answer. You will end up going 26 times the Earth’s circumference. Astonishing… isn’t it? But don’t be surprised, this is the concept of exponential growth. This concept has also been very well established in the parable known as the wheat and chessboard problem. The king asks the inventor of chess to sell his game.
The inventor demands to be paid in wheat and suggests that one grain of wheat should be placed on the first square of the chessboard, two grains on the second, four on the third and so on and so forth for the 64 squares, with the sum doubling in this way on each subsequent square. The king conjectures that this is a great deal and is persuaded, but is dazed when his treasurer informs that this bargain may result in the complete bankruptcy of the royal treasury.
‘Would you rather have a million dollars or the sum of a penny doubled everyday for a month?’ While almost anyone would invariably choose the first option, the latter sums up to more than four millions.
Outbreak which has been declared a pandemic by WHO should have been received grave. Unfortunately in country like Pakistan, we are taking it in light tone, busy in making memes about it. Official lockdown should have been declared all over Pakistan, but we are dilly-dallying.
Most of us have no idea how powerful exponential growth is. Had we learnt about its potentiality in the current pandemic outbreak, we would have been far more frightened and cautious than we currently are. In Pakistan, we have made an unfathomable stride from just 40 plus cases on 15th of March to 531 cases now, which makes the exponential growth surpassing 800% at this moment. At the current rate, we are likely to cross 5000 cases in just a week and 80000 by the mid-April, claims Osama Rizvi, a commodity analyst for various media outlets and freelance journalist.
China, Italy, Spain and many other European countries are now understanding the gravity of this issue and are taking actions to cope up with the rapid, unmitigated spread of the coronavirus. Some of them have paid a very huge price for their negligence in the beginning. Now they’re shutting down the workplaces, enforcing curfews, sealing their borders and advising their citizens to ‘self-quarantine’ and be cautious about the pandemic.
While everyone in the world is concerned regarding this issue, sceptics and naysayers are playing foolish tricks to downplay the severity of the issue. Even the government seems too oblivious to understand the potential of the contagion.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the increasing number of coronavirus patients in Pakistan, a country with insufficient health care facilities, with only 25000 coronavirus kits available with a figure of less than 2500 ventilators country-wide, that an outbreak should be way more lethal than it had been in China or Italy. Things are already getting blown way out of proportion.
This is what Atif Mian, a Pakistani economist has to say on this in a tweet on 21st March.
“Pakistan is on an explosive coronavirus trajectory and needs to take immediate, bold and clear-headed steps to protect its people and the economy.”
This issue has to be taken seriously. Necessary aggressive measures are now imperative on a national as well as at an individual level. Everything which can be closed must be closed. Remote working from home must be adopted nationwide in all the offices. The government should impose travel restrictions and bans more seriously on international as well as local level.
The citizens should observe social distancing and avoid public places including parks, markets and malls as much as possible. If someone has dry cough, fever, tiredness, difficulty breathing or even any flu-like symptoms, he ought to see a doctor.
Young people are least likely to get seriously ill by COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable to the new infection. They may get infected and become the source of transmission of the virus to those who are vulnerable. We are all in this together and we bear responsibility of our whole society. It is incumbent upon as that we act responsibly in these desperate times.