While Pakistan is embracing further relaxations in lockdown, whereas on the other hand, a sharp rise in death toll and coronavirus cases witnessed last week; the government is hoping that the virus will not spread as rapidly as previously had, but at the same time, taking measures to make up the nation’s mind for the worst.
Talking about the last week, the country recorded more than 10,000 new cases, and 200 deaths of COVID-19; the total death toll surged to 661 with the number of cases crossed 30,000, from which 249 patients are in critical condition.
Asad Umar – Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives – informed that besides easing the restrictions, the government is also taking certain steps like using the latest technology to identify Covid-19 hotspots and ways to ensure ‘smart’ lockdown to control local transmission.
“Under the new policy of smart lockdown, specific areas having Covid-19 cases will be cordoned off to stop the spread of the virus. As the lockdown has been eased so the individual responsibility of every person has increased and now everyone should take precautionary measures,” he added.
Enforcing the countrywide lockdown could not be prolonged for an indefinite period, Mr Umar also appreciated the decision of easing the lockdown taken after analyzing data of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) and with the mutual understanding of provincial governments.
Talking about use of technology to contain the Covid-19, the federal minister informed that a web portal and an app will be launched soon, starting from the Punjab, the technology will also help ambulance drivers to check the availability of beds and ventilators at nearby hospitals/isolation centers.
“As the general public will be able to download the portal, while shifting a patient to hospital in a private car, they will also be able to know where they have to take the patient,” the federal minister said.
Mr Umar also requested citizens to visit hospitals if they have Covid-19 symptoms and get tested without any shame, hesitation, or fear, suggesting to symptomatic and confirmed patients, he said that they could even isolate themselves at their houses as it is not necessary for every patient to stay at quarantine centers.
The easing of lockdown is a challenge for everyone – traders, buyers, and especially for authorities who are responsible to ensure that everyone adheres to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
As expected, in the federal capital, it was observed that customers and owners were not following the mechanism of social distancing, although trader associates gave assurances to local administrations that they will adhere to SOPs, it is believed that shopkeepers might not make customers to observe self-distancing in the fear of losing them.
To reduce the chances of local transmission of the virus, the provinces have already announced inter-city and inter-provincial transportation, and in Sindh, the lockdown will be maintained on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.