Pakistan was controlling the damage in the first wave efficiently but the second wave may become more lethal
The second wave of corona virus may become a nightmare for Pakistan. Corona virus (2019-nCoV) was isolated from Wuhan market in China at 16 November 2019 according to South China Morning Post. Then it quickly spread all over the world. At present, USA, Brazil, China and India are the most affected countries by COVID-19. No doubt, China has technically and scientifically fought this pandemic war in a much better way than other countries of the world and almost has beaten the COVID-19. Although, COVID vaccines specially by American multinational pharmaceutical company (Pfizer) and many others have also made their entrance in the market and we are hoping that soon they will be available all over the world and will give effective results. This pandemic has created many challenges for South Asian countries. Here is how this pandemic has impacted Pakistan.
Economic Impact of Covid-19
First, comes the economy of Pakistan and COVID-19 has severely affected Pakistan’s economy. Since the arrival of Covid-19, economic growth has turned sharply downwards, pushing economies into a global recession. Simply, we can say that COVID-19 is a nightmare for economies of developed as well as developing countries. Micro and medium sized enterprises are the major victims of this pandemic in Pakistan. Various businesses are facing different issues with a certain degree of losses. Particularly, enterprises are facing a variety of problems such as a decrease in demand, supply chain disruptions, cancelation of export orders, raw material shortage, and transportation disruptions, among others.
Nevertheless, it is quite clear that enterprises around the globe are experiencing the significant impact of COVID-19 outbreak on their businesses. These micro level businesses are the backbone of many economies worldwide that provide income and employment to large number of people around the globe. Similarly, in the case of Pakistan these businesses are crucial for the economy. About 3.2 million such businesses are contributing 40% to GDP and 40% to exports also.
Most of the informal sector which accommodates about 27.3 million employees before pandemic is now suffering a sudden increase in unemployment. Firms which are continuously facing a loss are now at shut down situation and their employees are left unemployed. Moreover, in Pakistan, livelihood opportunities for daily wages workers have been squeezed. Not only small and medium enterprises and traders been badly hit but the closure of large industries, ports, airports, and transportation services has also compressed and jammed the wheel of economy of Pakistan.
Additionally, this cut down in economic activity has scaled down the consumption of petroleum products thus resulting in closure of refineries globally due to which Pakistan’s petroleum trade is immensely impacted. The government claims that Pakistan is one of the highest Covid-19 testing countries in the world is still unreliable as a major part of the population cannot afford the cost of the test at Rs. 5000 per person.
Corona’s Impact on Education
Pakistan is suffering a great loss in its education sector since the pandemic has hardly hit it. The coronavirus outbreak has exposed its intense technological inequities. Over 50 million school and university-going Pakistanis now risk falling behind, says Umbreen Arif, a top education advisor for Pakistan’s central government. In Pakistan, about 300,000 schools have been closed since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Following Govt’s orders, school’s administrations have shifted classes to online mode of learning. Teachers who are living in urban cities and towns almost have the facilities of internet and smartphones. Similarly, students of these areas can access the internet and continue their study through digital platforms and applications. On the other hand, this e-learning hurts the students and teachers of rural areas. Wi-Fi issues, resource allocation, lack of electronics, these are all problems affecting rural students with little or no access to the necessities that go along with online school and college courses. For example, students of Govt. schools are major victims of pandemic. Ever since the pandemic is here, it’s still their dream to enjoy distance learning.
Another example is students living in exurban areas of Sindh, as well as of hilly areas of KPK, GB, and Baluchistan where there is no mobile phone service are waiting for a miracle, which will make it easy for them to study like students of Islamabad and Lahore are doing. Due to tensions on LOC Between India and Pakistan, students of AJK do not have internet. Online mode of learning has put a financial burden on parents also. Simply they have to arrange gadgets for all of their children individually. At the same, time when the country as well as individuals are facing economic losses while parents are compelled to buy electronics. All this has adverse impacts on psychology of people and they are getting depressed.
Corona’s Impact on Tourism
Pakistan’s domestic tourism industry is another victim of this pandemic. After extensive four decades battle of terrorism in Pakistan, domestic tourism industry besides other industries restored its breath in a country. Majority of countries who declared Pakistan as a terrorist state, in 2019 started declaring it as a peaceful and best holiday destination. Pakistan topped Forbes and Conde Nast Traveler’s list of best holiday destination for 2020. Even Baluchistan and Waziristan received special attention of the tourists and famous vloggers. But unfortunately, by the end of Jan 2020, when pandemic changed the whole world, how Pakistan could hide itself?
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has alerted that “the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a loss of $ 300-500 billion in tourism receipts globally”. Due to COVID-19 public transport in Pakistan got banned. Domestic as well as International flights were disallowed. Closure of markets, public places, parks, big bazaars, and shopping malls added fuel to fire. In major cities, many hotels were transformed into quarantine centers for abroad returned Pakistanis containing positive COVID cases.
Dine in was banned only home delivery and take away was allowed. Consequently, many International tourists cancelled their bookings and reservations that have negative impact on tourism industry including porters, street vendors and tour guides. In Pakistan most of the people living in Northern areas earn from tourism and rely only on tourist spending. But this pandemic left those areas desolated and they all are suffering. But we are hoping that as soon as the pandemic gets over, those places will become lively and crowded again.
It was all about Covid-19’s first wave and Pakistan suffered a lot in it. While the public and the Govt. are struggling to recover but unfortunately second spell of COVID-19 has knocked the door of Pakistan and due to spike in Covid’s cases it is expected that this wave will be lethal.