Dear Prime Minister: We need to lockdown now! As I request you, a number of advisors, government officials, activists and public health professionals are urging you to do the same. However, you still stand by your stance that Pakistan is not in a position to lockdown the country. You have again stated the same things, which you said in the last address to the nation, or the earlier ones. However, you need to realize the economic impact of health services for a million affected people.
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A few hours ago, the WHO’s top emergency expert has stated that even the lockdowns are not enough to defeat corona virus. It is being implied that the situation may worsen, even with a single affected person. The expert urged a lockdown and efficient public health measures which can ensure that not even a single virus affected individual is present. He has also shared his concern that the disease may jump back in the cleared regions.
It clearly states that the lockdowns must be followed by a clear identification of affected people, them being quarantined and ensuring that the virus is not found in them. Only then can they be allowed to go ahead with the normal situation. This clearly gives a long-term goal of protecting the population through multi-pronged approach; of which the lock down is the most important.
You must remember that Italy had just two cases on 30th of January. Similarly, it had a total of 4 cases on 22nd February. But, the numbers kept increasing thereon. To put the numbers straight, there were 79 cases on 23rd February, 888 cases on 28th February, 1577 cases on 1st March and 4636 cases by 6th of March. The Italian government was also unwilling to move with lockdown and the continuous increase in cases finally forced it. On 9th March, there were 9172 cases and 463 deaths. Italy had to lockdown to protect its people.
The Iranian case is similar, but more worrisome. The first two cases were reported on 19 February. Thereon, the daily number of cases have been upward of 100. As of now, a total 21,638 people have been affected, resulting in 1,685 deaths.
The Chinese model has shown the only effective approach to the world, i.e. a complete lockdown. The lockdown may be for a city, region, province or the entire country. And it is the most useful thing to do in the current circumstances. The Indian model may also be helpful. According to some media reports, the government has imposed curfew in Delhi which helped in controlling the crises.
Pakistan still has time to control the situation, and it may not be the same by the next week. It is imperative that the areas are locked down, at least in the form of cities, so that the intercity spread is controlled. On the other hand, the government may offer a special package to the district administrations to provide essential food ration to assist the poor and most vulnerable. Pakistani nation has a number of philanthropic arms which can also subsidize the poor communities and provide them essential items. For this, the government may provide essential assistance through NDMA.
Most importantly, it is essential that you understand what your government can do? The key things include the city level lockdown of all cities and regions. It is followed by special short-term incentives such as relieving the electricity or gas bills until the month of May 2020. The markets may continue to function to ensure there is no shortage of essential items, and the district administrations in the country are all able to manage it.
A few of these steps may be very helpful in protecting the Pakistani people from long-term loses, which include both life and economy. The time is ticking and the lockdown is the only option, Mr. Prime Minister. Thus, Dear Prime Minister: We need to lockdown now!
Official Website of PID: http://pid.gov.pk/