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COVID-19: Pakistan’s Failure To Arrest The Local Transmission Can Pay Back Heavily

While the foreign policy of Pakistan seems to be shifting into the hands of the country’s military, the situation of Covid-19 is getting tougher by every passing day.

World Health Organisation has ranked Pakistan among the top 10 countries in the world reporting the highest number of new cases of Covid-19 and advised the government to enhance daily testing capacity to 50,000 to assess the actual prevalence of coronavirus across the country.

The international health body also strongly recommended an intermittent lockdown strategy to arrest the massive transmission of coronavirus.

Dr. Zafar Mirza, the special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan, negated the WHO’s advice saying that the WHO is seeing the situation through ‘health lens’, but the government has to look at a number of other aspects before taking such a decision.

The same Dr. Mirza was also alleged to be involved in massive smuggling of about 20 million face masks. According to a notification issued by the FIA in March, the director of Islamabad Zone was directed to immediately investigate the allegations.

Meanwhile, four deaths are being reported every hour in the country and doctors at several main hospitals in the historic eastern city of Lahore told AFP they were running out of beds, ventilators, and other vital equipment.

Yesterday, the country reported over 6,000 cases the highest number of new cases ever reported in a day. The total number of cases in the country crosses 117,172 and fatalities to 2,317 until yesterday.

Pakistan also didn’t observe the strict restrictions in Eid days – the Muslim festival which was likely to spread the transmission of viruses as people frequently visit family and friends on the occasion.

The South Asian country has yet to annihilate other viral infections like polio and this new version of Coronavirus is all-penetrating into the society.

The poor response of the government in terms of controlling the local transmission can make the country pay back heavily in terms of international travel restrictions, a huge number of cases, and the health system’s failure.

Already people are reluctant to seek timely medical care either due to social and financial constraints or due to misinformation regarding coronavirus that is still being making rounds across social media.

According to the Dawn media report, the government has started closing quarantine centers across the largest province of the country, including six in Lahore, following a change in the policy under which the suspected Covid-19 patients were earlier required to quarantine at these centers.

Under the new policy, those arriving at the airports from abroad would just be screened through thermal scanners rather than tested on the spot making the tracing of Covid-19 infectious cases difficult to trace and isolate. This will also enhance the local transmission of infections that is already 92 percent according to the figures of the health ministry.

Even Newzealand, the country that has totally eliminated the coronavirus locally and has no active cases still quarantine all arrivals as a necessary preventive measure to arrest the community transfer of coronavirus.

Contact tracing, large-scale testing, quarantining the positive patients and their contacts have effective in largely defeating the virus in Newzeal and many other cities and countries.

Pakistan needs to implement the examples of other countries that effectively curb the rising infections placing apart lame excuses for not implementing lockdown due to economic crisis.

The ultimate requirement is to find ways and means to stop the coronavirus from spreading because health comes first and everything else is secondary.

About Noshin Bashir

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