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March 30, 2020

Meet all our heroes

Opinion

March 30, 2020

A month on, confirmed Covid-19 confirmed patients have passed from zero to more than 1400 in Pakistan. Sadly, people are not only horrified at this steepest rise but are also concerned about the federal government’s indecisiveness regarding a lockdown and the lack of a concrete strategy.

Still, we are optimistic that we can overcome this pandemic by fulfilling our personal responsibilities and supporting our heroes, who are serving us in this hard time.

Recently, to reduce the chances of spreading the Covid-19 pandemic, educational institutions were closed, and other public officials were also sent on vacations. And the government recommended the public ‘to stay at home, practise social distancing, wash hands for at least 20 seconds, use hand sanitizers and avoid non-essential travel to public places’.

Still, in this fight against Covid-19, some front-liners are serving us while risking their lives, in the course of their duties. They are our real heroes, who need to be protected and appreciated for their sacrifices.

Like in Wuhan, China, our doctors and paramedics staff too are fighting at the forefront since their services are priceless and incalculable. We shall never forget the sad death of Dr Osama Riaz, after having contracted Covid-19, in the course of his duty while serving the Taftan pilgrims who had returned from Iran to Pakistan.

Dr Osama’s sad death only confirmed the worrisome facts and details that doctors across the country had been complaining about: the deficiency of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other facilities as per WHO standards. They reportedly had no other choice but to buy those for their own. Hence, without risking other doctors, it is the time for the government to ensure at the earliest that all the doctors and paramedics get the required personal protective equipment.

Ultimately, the public can acknowledge the sacrifices of Dr Osama and services of other doctors and paramedics, by staying at home, maintaining social distance, washing our hands properly, using masks and sanitizers and following the SOPs of the WHO for avoiding the Covid-19 infection.

Besides healthcare workers’ warnings and advice, it has been observed that various placards and banners have been placed at different places in Peshawar, by the municipality, requesting the public to “stay at their home as they (municipal and sanitation workers) are out to serve the public”.

There has been no holiday for municipal and sanitation workers; they put their lives at risk to work at disinfecting Covid-19 affected areas (red zones), quarantine places and hospitals, by chlorinating, washing buildings, streets and roads, fumigation and spraying, and disposing of domestic and hospital waste. They are present every time, on the front line, in the war against Covid-19. Courageously, they are supplying water and other necessities to the quarantined places and to patients in isolation, washing and cleaning these places and also sensitizing people about the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is a fact that the municipal, sanitation and janitorial workers employed with the water and sanitation companies and other municipalities are often the least privileged people who are getting low wages and are serving in low grades. Imperatively, all the janitorial and municipal workers who are engaged in the disinfection of Covid-19 infected spaces including cleaning, washing and removing solid waste should be protected and their health and welfare should be prioritized.

Consequently, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also urged the federal and provincial governments to ensure availability of personal protective equipment to such vulnerable workes. Their services and sacrifices should be acknowledged with financial support and appreciation.

What can the public do to help the sanitation and janitorial workers in the present scenario? Possibly, if we remain indoor, throw our domestic waste into the designated places and not into the streets and drains. We can share the burden of municipal workers by keeping clean as much as we can.

Similarly, we also need to appreciate our police force for their services. Unfortunately, there are also reports that police officials also have no personal protective equipment and regrettably many have bought masks made of cloth while performing their duties and requesting people to stay at home. Besides this, they are also guarding the sensitive areas, hospitals and quarantined places where they are very vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus.

Immediately, all those police officials who are serving at quarantine centres and hospitals should be provided with all necessities including personal protective equipment. We the public can support our police force by curtailing our outdoor activities to the maximum.

Likewise, rescue workers, Edhi workers and officials from the district administration who are working tirelessly in the fight against Covid-19 are all invaluable. Their safety should be prioritized by supplying them the necessary precautionary kits.

The media has not only a very important role in highlighting the sacrifices of doctors and paramedics, police, municipal and other workers but in sensitizing the public to follow precautionary measures appropriately to evade the Covid-19 virus.

The government should ensure every doctor and paramedic, every police official, janitor or municipal worker is properly protected by ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) as per WHO and OSHA standards. The safety of these people should be ensured as they have put their lives at risk for us. Besides government recognition, there is a need for public support. Every individual has a role in the eradication of the Covid-19 pandemic, which they should play with responsibility. Let’s stand by the people who are putting their lives in danger while saving ours.

The writer is a Peshawar-based lawyer.

Email: [email protected] gmail.com

Twitter: s_irshadahmad