People from all walks of life have been affected by coronavirus. Some are struggling to survive while many have lost their jobs as a consequence of this pandemic and grappling to make both ends meet. Self employed people are also going through hard times as the virus has made it difficult for them to operate their businesses. The worldwide tally of corona cases has risen to around 13 million with more than half a million deaths. The virus continues to spread globally.
Pakistan reported its first corona case on February 26. All the four provinces had registered cases by March 18. The opposition and many in the media were of the view that the country should go for an instant lockdown as many other countries around the world did. Schools, Colleges and Universities were closed abruptly but there was still perplexity over locking down the entire country considering how it will impact the poor, the small businesses.
Pakistan People’s Party government in Sindh took a lead and announced lockdown in the province. The decision earned Murad Ali Shah much appreciation from the media for taking a lead in decision making. Imran Khan, the Prime Minister, was reluctant to impose lockdown keeping in mind the impact it would have on the less privileged who struggle to bring home the bacon. The daily wagers, who did not have any money saved in the banks, were supposed to be the most affected. Imran Khan feared that a strict lockdown would result in more people dying from hunger than the disease itself. The other provinces including the ones where PTI is in power, followed Sindh and went for a lockdown.
There would definitely be flaws in government’s policy to tackle coronavirus and we may criticize it but Imran Khan’s concern for the poor and less privileged from the very beginning is worth appreciating. The corona virus has adversely affected the economy of many countries including Pakistan’s already not so good economy. But still Imran Khan’s government managed to approve a relief package for around 10 million people back in March and distributed 12000 four month stipend in a lump sum among them without any major discrepancies. This massive relief was first of its kind and a much needed one because many people lost their jobs as companies, restaurants and different institutes went for downsizing. Laborers and daily wagers were made to sit home as a consequence of lockdown.
There are still millions of unregistered labor working in the country who could not get benefitted from the relief fund as it was near to impossible for the government to reach them in such short period of time.
The spread of coronavirus around the world has exposed the health system of many countries. Hospitals running out of space to accommodate corona affected patients, shortage of essential medical equipment and other related issues. Since the beginning of pandemic, Ventilators have been the most sought after medical equipment as it helps critical patients to breathe when their lungs fail to work properly. There has been a great imbalance between the supply and demand of ventilators.
Pakistan also reached out to different ventilators manufacturing companies and countries but could not get much help. The country needed to manufacture essential medical equipment at home to cope with the challenge of corona. The engineers, scientists at National Radio and Telecommunications Corporation (NRTC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology under Fawad Chaudhry starting working for home made ventilators and they succeeded in it. On July 6, Pakistan handed over the first batch of locally made ventilators to National Disaster Management. Pakistan is now among those few countries producing their own ventilators.
The National Command and Operation centre started operating under the leadership of Asad Umar months back. The purpose of setting up NCOC was to tackle corona situation and get input of provinces’ and analyze the information being received from provinces and devise a uniform strategy accordingly. It was another good step by the government towards a unified response to handle the pandemic. Chief Secretaries of four provinces and two dependant territories (AJK and GB) participate in the meeting and brief the team headed by Asad Umar about the situation of virus in their respective provinces and territories. The NCOC helps provinces identify the corona hotspot areas and directs them to go for a smart lockdown.
Smart Lockdown has proven out to be quite beneficial as the number of positive cases is going down and the curve is slowly but surely flattening. The NCOC said on Sunday that Pakistan’s critical Covid-19 patients decreased by 28% as a result of smart lockdown and the implementation of SOPs. According to a report, the number of critically ill patients in Punjab has dropped by 50%.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are the writer’s own opinion. Dunya News will not be held responsible for any kind of discrepancy.