Corona Complication in Capital

By: Parsa Bukhari

We have been familiar to coronavirus since October 2019, and it’s been approximately 4 months that coronavirus continues to escalate in Pakistan. Islamabad – The second most beautiful capital in the world has confirmed more than 8860 cases till now. Though the others cities of country are also reporting surge in the number of corona positive cases, but the most disciplined city is still under the attack of COVID-19. Two sub-sectors of G-9, G-9/2 and G-9/3, and the sector’s markaz known as Karachi Company were sealed at midnight on Saturday because of the spread of the coronavirus among local residents, While, I-8, I-10, Ghauri Town, Bharakhau, G6 and G7 are being monitored. In the meantime, more than 200 cases are confirmed so far in I-8 sector of Islamabad. Yesterday, the National Command and Coordination Centre (NCOC) has identified top 20 cities across the country as potential COVID-19 hotspots and clusters under the trace, track and quarantine (TTQ). Even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge, markets and shopping centres are open to shoppers while standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are not being enforced properly. Moreover, public transport has added a lot in the violation of SOPs, as local vans are full of passengers, and most of the passengers are without masks. In March, when lockdown was declared in capital, at every check point, public was asked about precautionary measures i.e. masks, gloves etc. but now I have observed that there is no implementation on the SOPs properly throughout the federal capital. More than 7.94 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus globally and over 432,000 have died so far, and still we are not taking it seriously. COVID-19 has laid bare the flaws in infrastructures around the globe. In Pakistan where the state spends less than 3% of its GDP on health, it has exposed the fragility of the tottering health infrastructure. A burgeoning population and static state spending on health care was always a recipe for disaster. Around the globe, with medical infrastructure reeling from the pandemic, the unemployment crisis will go hand in hand with famine. The World Food Programme (WFP) has already warned of a catastrophic famine in which more than 300,000 people are likely to starve to death daily around the world. 1.6 billion people are at risk of perishing from the fall out of the coronavirus. The world’s most deprived countries will be hit by the peak of the pandemic in the next few months. Recent figures for the cases of COVID-19 have shown a rapid increase in the number of new cases in hospital. Pakistan already lacks nurses and doctors compared to other countries and the premature lifting of the lockdown has put them at risk of picking up the virus and passing it on further. More than 30 health professionals have lost their life to the fatal virus. Experts have forecasted that these cases are likely to peak by mid-June. The idea of ‘herd immunity’ is certainly proving to be highly risky and dangerous for the nation. The confusion regarding the lockdown has put unmanageable burden on the healthcare system. National Institute of Health has estimated the number of daily cases to increase by 15-20pc due to the ease of lockdown. Majority of the general public is simply ignoring the SOPs, despite the increase in number of cases; most are still not ready to believe that this is indeed a global pandemic. Instead, they are disregarding it by claiming that the virus does not exist and the doctors are killing the patients. Not only that, but this belief has put the lives of health workers at risk. According to a latest report by WHO, Pakistan’s positivity rate of the deadly coronavirus is now 22 percent. Positivity rates, which are being monitored in all pandemic-struck countries around the world, is the percentage of positive results out of the total number of tests sampled. Pakistan’s positivity rate of the COVID-19 is higher than the expected, what can Pakistan do? Guidelines from the WHO recommend that countries looking to relax social distancing rules, lockdowns, or other public health measures should report a positivity rate of 5pc or less, for two consecutive weeks. As Pakistan’s positivity rate of the COVID-19 is higher than expected, analysts believe that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision not to impose a strict lockdown in Pakistan makes sense as a failing economy does afford to function under a curfew-like lockdown. However, the incumbent government has apparently failed to implement a strict policy of enforcing SOPs across the country. Studies suggest that the pace of the virus’ spread could decrease by 50% by covering the mouth alone, at the same time social distancing is equally valuable for combating the disease. Islamabadians are largely violating the SOPs issued by the government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. There is a radical need to bring a change in attitude towards the virus on an individual and collective basis and we have to understand that, wearing masks is mandatory for slowing down the spread of the virus. The journey so far has been troubling, let’s hope that it is over sooner than most expect and predict. Coronavirus in the capital is spreading like fire. During this pandemic situation, we must have to show sense of responsibility, by following the precautionary measures. Divine intervention is the need of the hour and let us continue to maintain faith that this will all be over soon by the will and grace of the Almighty, but at the same time in such worsening situation, the government and all the concerned authorities must devise a strategy against the spread of the virus. Considering the health sector’s situation in Pakistan, we need to copy the precautionary steps that other countries have adopted to prevent further spread of the virus. Public health authorities in the rest of the world have initiated preparedness and response activities. The government needed to have a robust and effective communication mechanism to urge people to follow all the SOPs. –

The writer is Editor at Daily Country News, can be reached at [email protected]