It seems like the mindless Eid festivities and the de facto end of the lockdown restrictions are beginning to show the dreaded results. Every new day is bringing new records of coronavirus positive cases and deaths related to the virus complications.
On Wednesday, the country made several new records related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the grip of which is only tightening in Pakistan as it loosens in the west. In the past 24 hours, the country registered 20,167 new cases from across the country in a new sobering record.
Sindh, Balochistan, and Islamabad, all broke their own previous records for new cases registering 1,824, 484, and 356 positives respectively. Punjab recorded 1,615, KP 476, GB 45, and AJK one new case of the novel coronavirus – high numbers but not beating the previous tallies.
Although new deaths were also recorded at a very high 82, Pakistan has fared worse in that area recording 88 deaths, its highest toll, on May 31.
Since the beginning of the virus in Pakistan and varying degrees of the following lockdowns, the government has shown the worst kind of confusion one can expect.
While the provinces appeared to be acting in silos imposing their own versions of restrictions which often deviated from what the center had suggested, the federal leadership continuously showed reluctance to complete lockdowns but at the same time attributed the pandemic’s low impact in Pakistan (compared to the western nations) to strict measures.
‘Select’ industries were allowed to resume operations over a month ago subject to strict SOPs which everyone knew would be flouted. More businesses were opened later and were expected, in vain, of course, to follow the SOPs. Then, Ramazan and Eid came and everything from malls to public transport opened.
Flight operations, both domestic and international, were allowed to resume. But the SOPs for flyers – that only include triaging and sampling of symptomatic passengers – also do very little to stem the spread. By the time the test results arrive, that too of only those showing symptoms, they will have infected countless others. Many more will be infected by the asymptomatic carriers.
True, that prolonged lockdowns are no answer to a pandemic of this unprecedented magnitude. But, a clear national strategy would have addressed the confusion that’s only mounting with time as new cases and fatalities snowball into a greater national crisis.
Blaming people for the sharp surge of the pandemic or expecting them to practice extreme caution when the life has virtually returned to normal – despite the pandemic’s peak yet to arrive in the country – is totally unfair. Representatives of the government asking the public to take the pandemic ‘seriously’ when it doesn’t demonstrate urgency itself, and threatening them about stricter measures is purely infantile on their part.
Besides, even the most extreme precautionary measures don’t guarantee total protection against the tiny microbe that can find its way into your system no matter how well-shielded you are.
The prime example here is the rising infections among doctors and healthcare workers in Pakistan and other parts of the world. Who would know better safety protocols than the medical workers themselves, yet they are succumbing to the contagion by the hundreds.
It’s clear that Pakistan’s unsaid coronavirus policy has been the pursuit of herd immunity right from the start. Now that the life has returned to normalcy mid-crisis, the worsening of the virus impact should not surprise any of us. The big question, however, is how our shambolic medical infrastructure will cater to the inevitable spike.