Last week when we wrote our editorial, there were a little more than 30,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. At the time of writing this today, Pakistan’s confirmed coronavirus cases are more than 41,000. Deaths, too, have increased — last Sunday, they were more than 600… this Sunday, they are almost 900.
A spike of around 11,000 new cases and almost 300 deaths in just one week. This is the reality of coronavirus even though we will have to live with it. At least for a year or more.
And since we have to live with corona now, we should at least have some rules: face masks should be mandatory and for those who can’t afford them, the government should provide them. Qatar has made the wearing of face masks compulsory and anyone defying the order can face a jail term of up to three years. A fine of up to $55,000 has also bee announced for those who repeatedly fail to cover up.
We need to make and implement rules like these. If malls and shopping centres are open, proper protocols like social distancing must be followed and implemented by the local administration. Businesses and factories that have opened up or will be opening up soon should also follow strict SOPs. Anyone who fails to follow these rules should face imprisonment or heavy fines for endangering people’s lives. If there are no strict penalties, there will be no deterrent. And if there is no deterrent, then it is open season for coronavirus.
Just look at what happened at retail shops earlier this week. People thronged clothes shops and other markets. It was sheer madness. Some say it is because of the timings (shops are not allowed to open past 5 pm or over the weekend). But there is another view that says how many people still think of COVID-19 as flu and are not really bothered unless and until they or their loved ones get it. This is downright dangerous. Coronavirus is not flu. It has already taken more lives in just a few months than flu takes in an entire year. The damage coronavirus causes to vital organs of even those who survive it is way more dangerous than anything else.
Pakistan will see a peak at the end of this month and we can only hope that our health sector is able to deal with it.
We understand the economic implications of stricter measures but we should also realise that the global pandemic is leading the world to recession in the first place. Pakistan will be no different. The post-corona world is one that we may not even recognise. It will cause a lot of misery around the world, both in terms of being deadly and when it comes to financial hardships.