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May 31, 2020

Covid casualties

Editorial

May 31, 2020

The daily number of new infections of coronavirus in Pakistan is going into thousands. This is not an entirely unforeseen scenario. Experts in medical science and doctors have been crying hoarse for at least the past two months for us to take the disease seriously. They have urged the government to enforce its SOPs and make sure that the spread of the virus is contained. They have also been calling on people not to consider Covid-19 as a drama of sorts, as many on social media have been propagating. With nearly 1400 deaths in Pakistan, it should be evident enough for everyone to believe the doctors. But it seems that the pandemic has not only brought human casualties in its wake, there have been some other casualties too, which the government and the people have precipitated with their lax responses to the virus. These casualties will result in many more deaths if we keep our refusal to face them.

Sanity appears to be a major casualty in the country as people are losing their minds and tempers at the same professionals who have been trying to protect them. Doctors, paramedical personnel, and janitorial staff are the ones who are at most risk, as they are treating thousands of people on a daily basis. They are putting their own lives in danger so that the people infected with novel coronavirus can be saved. But all sanity appears to be lost not only to the patients who refuse to accept their medical condition, but also to those who accompany the patient. Clinics and hospitals have been attacked, emergency rooms ransacked, and even doctors and nurses maltreated by those who accompany patients. The recent display of violence at Civil Hospital in Karachi is a case in point. This behaviour is the result of the failure of our state to provide security to medical establishments. There is an urgent need to deploy security to maintain law and order around hospitals, and to enforce the SOPs in cities especially in congested areas.

This is a war-like situation and many countries have declared a state of emergency. The same needs to be done in Pakistan. The government has been taking it pretty lightly prompting the people too to respond with non-seriousness in this matter. Now there is even talk about allowing all public transport to operate. It is a matter of grave concern that despite such a big number of infections every day, the authorities can even think of allowing public transport. This is no laughing matter and should be dealt with utmost care and consideration. The government must heed the pleas of doctors, provide them full security, and avoid such steps that will result in a precipitous rise in casualties.