Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has reiterated that there will not be another lockdown. “It is tantamount to shutting down the entire economy to contain the spread of coronavirus. My views have been quite clear on this from the first day.”
He said that Pakistan is not like Singapore or New Zealand or Taiwan with smaller populations and is also not a rich country to afford a lockdown. PM Imran said smart lockdown will be imposed after identifying hotspots and blamed the people of Pakistan for not following SOPs.
Pakistan’s coronavirus cases are more than 141,000 while deaths are 2,647. The number of cases keeps rising rapidly each day, which hospitals seem unable to deal with. Oxygen cylinders are unavailable in most cities or are available at exorbitant prices while prices of oximeters, medicines and other supplies have also shot up. Pakistan’s health sector will not be able to deal with such a huge crisis in the coming days.
“I have been saying this repetitively that you must take precautions… I am disappointed to see that our people have been very careless,” said PM Imran who had once likened COVID-19 to flu.
He said that masks are now mandatory and both the administration and volunteers of the Tiger Force will ensure this.
It is easy for the government to ask people to follow the SOPs and take precautions while not taking responsibility for its policy failure. When lockdown was first imposed in the country, it should have been extremely strict followed by aggressive testing. Lockdown should not have been lifted for Eid when cases were on the rise. The government not just lifted the lockdown but also kept downplaying the virus despite warnings from health workers and senior doctors. No wonder then that people are not taking coronavirus seriously. It is the government’s responsibility to implement rules; people all over the world are not responsible unless rules and laws are strictly implemented. The government should consider temporary lockdown in cities where administration finds it difficult to control the spread of coronavirus, increase the number of tests, create more awareness by telling people how serious this virus is.
Countries that locked down early and strictly have been able to return to normal much faster and are open to a large extent. In Pakistan, we have been busy in comparisons or criticism of other countries’ strategies while no effective policy has been in place here.
Reports indicated that the Punjab government was considering imposing a strict two-week lockdown in Lahore at the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) due to the rising number of cases but PM Imran rejected the proposal.
Selective lockdown is not a solution because its implementation will be extremely difficult. It seems as if the government has adopted the policy of ‘to each his/her own’ when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus. Let’s not forget that countries that have gone down this road have not been able to save their economy either. We should act before it is too late.