In March, Pakistan had imposed a lockdown in the country, closing down schools, mosques, shops, markets, shopping malls, and offices except for emergency service, after taking strict measures to curb the increasing COVID-19 cases. Last week, government of Pakistan lifted its countrywide lockdown as we might face an economic disaster.
Last month, the government had announced reopening of the industries, including construction, agriculture, e-commerce, paper and packaging, and others to resume the business activities and to stem a deepening economic collapse caused by the coronavirus crisis. These industries were termed as low risk industries.
Before the start of the month Ramadan, the government allowed the opening of mosques for daily and Taraweeh prayers, under special guidelines. Despite a warning from the Prime Minister himself that a violation could lead to a closure of the places, those guidelines were not being followed in 80% of the mosques.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, has been a firm supporter of “smart” lockdown. He defended the lifting of lockdown by saying that the government is doing this to mitigate the miseries of poor and daily wage earners. However, government also warned that in case of a spike in the COVID-19 cases, another lockdown will be imposed in the country.
Last week, small shops and markets were allowed to start their regular work routine. Almost everyone was out of their homes the very next day for Eid shopping. SOPs were thrown out of the window. Roads were jammed with usual traffic and shops were fully occupied with the people and most of them didn’t even bother to wear masks. In all the major cities, markets and roads were crowded than usual.
Lockdown over in Pakistan?
With Eid-ul-Fitr just around the corner, the crowd is likely to increase every day. Public transport is operated only in Punjab. As this was not enough, yesterday, Supreme Court of Pakistan has set aside the government’s ‘smart’ lockdown order, and ordered to open all big shopping malls claiming that millions of the people will be on the streets and country might face an economic disaster.
Let’s not forget, COVID-19 cases in Pakistan are accelerating. The pandemic has already killed more than 900 people and infected more than 42,000 others in the country which has a population of 220 million. Out of the total number of deaths from the coronavirus, more than 200 have been registered over the past week.
Doctors are in the favor of lockdown as they fear the pandemic will gather pace in the coming weeks and can have disastrous consequences for the already struggling health system. On one hand, COVID-19 cases keep on increasing in the country and on the other hand government claims that we do not have enough resources to sustain the economic pressure. Now, the ball is in our court. People need to understand that they need to avoid going out unnecessarily and when they are going out, proper precautionary measures should be taken to keep corona virus away.
by: Abeer Arshad