On our own

 
June 03, 2020

As the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pakistan is increasing daily by the thousands, the response from the federal government and the NDMA has been as confused as ever. The number of infected...

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As the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pakistan is increasing daily by the thousands, the response from the federal government and the NDMA has been as confused as ever. The number of infected people is approaching the 80,000 mark. The number of deaths across the country is feared to touch 2000 in the next couple of days. The increasing number of infected persons among the medical community should be a serious cause of concern and more and more doctors and paramedical staff are being infected and losing their battle against Covid-19. There are complaints about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) from across the country. The required testing kits are also in short supply at the government-run clinics and hospitals, forcing people to go to private hospitals for the test, which costs Rs8,000 to Rs12,000 apiece.

On Monday, the National Coordination Committee’s meeting seemed to give out one message to the nation: you’re on your own. This is an alarming situation. On top of it all, smart sampling carried out by the Punjab government in Lahore is said to have found an estimated 670,800 new cases, meaning that six percent of the city's population of 11.18 million could potentially have been infected. Some towns showed a positivity rate of 14.7 percent. Most of these cases were asymptomatic and could not be reported to the health facilities, according to the Technical Working Group which carried out the study. Reports say that the summary was sent to the Punjab chief minister on May 15 but it seems it was kept secret for over two weeks despite the startling findings which have a potentially disastrous impact on the lives and welfare of people.

There is obviously a question over how long any country can stay in lockdown. But Pakistan’s continuous to-ing and fro-ing over the imposition of a lockdown has simply left people confused. Pakistan now ranks among the top 10 countries where the rate of infection is rising most rapidly. This should be a cause of very serious concern. We do not know what will happen next. But we do know that many people will start feeling like they have been asked to somehow manage without help or guidance in whatever way they can. It is of course the poor, who also lack access to information, who will suffer the worst and make up the largest figure amongst those who become seriously ill or are killed by a virus Pakistan has failed to hobble as it rampages through a country of 220 million people.



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