More than 30,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in Pakistan with over 600 deaths. The government has opted for a “smart lockdown” as both the number of cases and fatalities continue to increase on a daily basis, but nationwide lockdowns are also being eased with each passing day.
Some government officials allude to the theory of herd immunity while others say that since the mortality rate of coronavirus is low in Pakistan, we must reopen the economy as the country cannot survive without it. We are left to our own devices now. You can choose to stay at home and in isolation if your work allows you to do it. Otherwise, go out but take precautions and hope that you don’t get coronavirus.
We understand that the decision must not have been easy for the government but are we really preferring death over struggle?
The world is also facing the brunt of easing lockdowns: South Korea warned of a ‘second wave’ of the coronavirus as infections rebounded to a one-month high on Sunday while coronavirus infections are rising in Germany days after the country eased its lockdown restrictions. These were two countries that had actually flattened the curve and had controlled the coronavirus cases to quite an extent.
Imagine if the said countries — with the capacity of aggressive testing and better healthcare facilities — are struggling once again due to the second wave of the virus, what can happen in the near future in Pakistan — a country where a proper lockdown was hardly imposed for two weeks. Where the prime minister was against locking down from day one and where the ‘elite’ were blamed by the premier for somehow enforcing lockdown. Where the lockdown restrictions were eased but it led to everyone thinking that things were back to normal.
Punjab is now allowing gyms, hair salons and barbershops to reopen again. If the administrations could not ensure that proper SOPs were followed in mosques during Ramzan, how will the local administrations ensure the same at barbershops or gyms or salons? While KP and Balochistan seem to be taking the pandemic lightly, hard-hit Sindh is also mulling opening markets.
We talk of a ‘smart lockdown’ but we are not too smart, are we? People follow rules when they are enforced and properly implemented. They follow government instructions when the government is not giving out mixed messages or confusing messages. First, we tell them that only old people die of coronavirus, then we tell them that coronavirus doesn’t kill too many people and then we say well, even if it kills people, we must not give up hope and we need to go back to work because… economy.