At a time when the WHO has said it believes most countries in the world will struggle to manage the Covid-19 pandemic and as such there will be no early return to normal life, Pakistan's testing...
At a time when the WHO has said it believes most countries in the world will struggle to manage the Covid-19 pandemic and as such there will be no early return to normal life, Pakistan's testing data leaves much to be desired. On Sunday, according to the WHO, 230,000 new cases of Covid-19 were reported from around the world. There is no evidence the pandemic is on its way out and the WHO believes that only following SOPs such as social distancing, hand-washing and wearing masks could prevent it from getting worse. At this time, when the WHO has expressed concern about the easing of lockdowns leading to an increase in cases, Pakistan needs to amp up its testing – instead of reducing the testing rate, as is feared by some. While the country has 99 laboratories able to test for the novel coronavirus, their per day capacity has rarely been used. The WHO believes that only aggressive testing and tracking can help understand the patterns of transmission and the virulence of Covid-19 in any country. While Pakistan had said it expected to increase testing to 100,000 a day, some reports suggest that the number has instead dropped.
This will help no one. The lack of testing may show a false reality, suggesting that Covid-19 is on the decline. At the current time, we need the most careful management and the largest amount of testing as well as the following of SOPs. We have already seen countries that have ended lockdowns seeing a resurgence of cases. The WHO chief has said that countries which failed to follow proven methods faced enormous risks. He also said that the truth is that there may be no return to the ‘old normal’, and that unfortunately too many countries are headed in the wrong direction.
We hope Pakistan follows a path of caution in the face of a terrifying virus that has already claimed more than 570,000 people around the world. There have been questions about Pakistan’s own death toll, with some statisticians and health experts warning that cases are rising rapidly and the death rate too will go up. The UN has also warned the Covid virus brings with it potential hunger, exacerbating already worsening trends this year. This is the reality Pakistan has to deal with. It can only do so by telling its people the truth, conducting as many tests as it has the capacity for and warning people everywhere to continue the precautions that must be taken to prevent the threat we already face turning into a catastrophe.