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April 6, 2020

Phased opening

Newspost

 
April 6, 2020

No country in the world can afford to remain in a lockdown state for an indefinite period. Pakistan has been in a state of lockdown for the past two weeks, bringing the economy to a nosedive. Daily wagers are desperately seen crowding on roadsides, awaiting ration supplies, becoming further vulnerable to the corona hazard. This time was to be utilized to do risk assessment, healthcare capacity building, and deployment of force to counter widespread expansion. This phase will be over in a week’s time, and any further extension in lockdown will have serious ramifications.

There is a requirement to strategize resumption of routine economic activities in a phased programme at the earliest, while continuing to fight corona pandemics in an effective manner. The government must deliberate in consultation with stakeholders to open certain important sectors like agriculture, construction industry, banks, selected industry and courier and essential services. The opening of these sectors will reduce the burden on the government of home to home delivery of rations. As the situation permits, other sectors can also be opened. The methodology for lockdown can shift from central to decentralized lockdown approach, restricting it to the areas that are exposed and threatened. While strategizing a return to normal life, the key principles to be kept in mind are: adherence to preventive measures, avoid crowding, maintain work/ social distancing, and identification /isolation of corona suspicious. It is beyond any government to exclusively counter this menace; society has to play its role to get to normal life.

Saud Bashir

Lahore