Global Pandemic; Pakistan’s credibility, actions, and threats (first wave edition)
What is corona?
where it has started?
What steps Pakistan is taking to fight with the epidemic? Why effectiveness is not 100 percent?
What challenges Pakistan is facing and will face?
What is corona?
In recent times, world has turned its face to the globally viral infectious disease, which WHO has declared a Global Pandemic commonly known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19. It is a serious pneumonia. It has got major attention from the world when in January-25–2020 almost 1975 cases had been reported in Wuhan, the city of china. However, first case of corona virus appeared on 12 December 2019. Patient had experienced a severe respiratory disorder whose symptoms also include cough, fever, and dizziness. Meanwhile, he was admitted into the hospital when after six days symptoms had been shown, on 26 of December.
Where it has started?
It is claimed that COVID-19 has first emerged from Wuhan’s seafood market, where wild animals are traded illegally; including birds, snakes, bats, rabbit, etc. On 21 January, WHO (western public office) confirmed that this virus has an ability to transmit from animal to human. It transmits from human to human by inhaling Ariel droplets of the person infected; while that person sneezed, or coughed.
How it is like SARS-CoV-2
On 11 February 2020, WHO (World Health Organization) named this virus “SARS-CoV-2” because studies of virologist from Wuhan Institute of virology had shown, that genetic sequence of (SARS-CoV-2) is up to 70 percent similar to the well know corona epidemic (SARS). That was diagnosed in southern china in 2002. However, research had shown that the current epidemic was never identified in humans before, that is why there is not any specific anti-viral medication for its treatment.
Because of unavailability of information about the virus, world took it moderately. It spread in to 209 countries and now it has tightened up the entire world. Today America with total 435,289, Spain with 152,446 and Italy with total 139422 confirmed cases are most affected countries in the world. Fortunately, Pakistan’s situation is still under control with 4,457 confirmed cases.
Steps Pakistan is taking to fight with the epidemic
On 26 February 2020, Federal Health minister of Pakistan had confirmed first two cases in Pakistan. As the number of cases confirmed in Pakistan, Federal government immediately took several steps such as closing borders with all infected countries. No, any case entered Pakistan from china, but from Iran. Because of lack of space and Health facilities in hospitals, infected people were forcibly sent back to Pakistan.
Government had implemented screening system with the collaboration of Civil Aviation Authority. This system screens each passenger who has travelling history to any of the infected country such as china, Iran, Japan. few quarantine centres and isolation wards have been made one modern quarantine center had also been made with 300 beds.
Pakistan has put a fair amount of efforts in making digital Pakistan. Thus, National Institute of Health (NIH) of Pakistan is playing a vital role during this health crisis by launching public awareness campaigns. These campaigns are about protecting oneself by maintaining social distancing and wearing protecting equipment such as facemask. Social media influencers are also taking part in creating awareness through social media. Through social media, mainly target is youth. Public service messages were also telecasted on T.V. as another source of providing information.
After extending number of cases in Sindh, chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah announced lockdown in the province, in order to reduce the risk. Within a few days, all chief ministers of Pakistan have announced lockdown. This lockdown includes a ban on many public gathers such as wedding hall, restaurants, industries, shopping malls, schools, public events, shops except food shops.
Government has also started cash program “Ehsaas emergency cash programme” for daily wager and people with low income in Pakistan. As lockdown has been implementing in the country, impoverished people of Pakistan will face difficulties. These money programs are also digitalised. Each family will get 12000 rupees for ration. Cabinet has approved a total budget of 144 billion although, if further cash will be required, then cabinet will be asked for further funding.
What challenges Pakistan is facing and will face
Increasing number of positive cases in the country demands a high level of preparedness. It also needs to take steps actively and on time. Several strategies should be implemented. Although Pakistan has taken several steps to limit the growth of virus, but still Pakistan has to put some more efforts. During this pandemic on one hand, Pakistan is trying to control the situation she is facing several challenges as an obstacle between putting hundred percent efforts. These challenges include challenges that country is facing right now and after challenges. Pakistan is trying to face the challenge effectively, but due to several challenges she is facing, she still cannot still cannot cope with the situation perfectly.
Challenge as an underdeveloped country
As Pakistan is still an underdeveloped country, so she cannot afford to implement curfew in the entire country because the aftereffects of this curfew will not be favourable. Economic crisis; the biggest challenge because of which complete lockdown cannot be implemented. By complete lockdown, stock market will crash and country like Pakistan cannot afford this level of economical mis balance. According to a report, countries like America, Italy and china will take at least 6–8 months to get back to their original position.
Pakistan could be the next epicentre of corona crisis, if the situation would not be taken seriously. It has far more potential to get into the dangerous situation. Unlike countries like America, Italy and china, Pakistan does not have proper medical staff. Pakistan is also facing scarcity in terms of medical equipment for treating the patients. Level of scarcity could be estimated with that; even medical staff does not have proper protecting equipments while treating the patients. While giving interview to Al-Jazeera Dr Hazart Akbar said, “Only those on front line have kits, those in emergency and casually don’t really have them”. While giving a speech about corona pandemic Prime Minister Imran Khan has mentioned that we can treat on 25,000 patients, if the number exceeds, the situation would be out of control.
Daily wagers; challenge and a threat
Another biggest challenge for Pakistan is under-privileged people of Pakistan and daily wagers. Almost 39 percent population of Pakistan lives under the line of poverty. Because of this complete lock down cannot be implemented in the country in one of the speech on corona pandemic prime minister said, “If we shut down the cities… we will save them from corona at one end, but they will die from hunger on the other side”
Lack of medical staff and testing equipment
Earlier, when COVID-19 was diagnosed in Pakistan did not have the facility to test the suspected cases thus, samples were sent to foreign laborites. Soon after she received test kits from china but those are not enough today almost 3000 samples are being tested but still unknown cases number would be beyond the expectations. Although, quarantine centres and isolation wards have been made, but that is not enough. According to the travel history, over 16000 people came back from Iran within last two months. Around 8000 of them are still not searched by the government, which could cause further spread of virus. First, we do not have enough kits, secondly suspected patients are not being found.
Religious groups; potential threat
With all the technical challenges, Pakistan also faces problems because of self-styled Islamist. Because of lack of knowledge Pakistani public take; this is issued non- seriously. Claiming that this epidemic is a wrath from Allah only for non-Muslims. Although, government has announced lockdown and appealed for maintaining social distancing; citizens take it impractically. Self-named owner of Islam avow that religion will not harm anyone, so government should take off the ban from gatherings in mosques. Public also accept this and reject government’s order. They all claim that no one gets sick until unless Allah wants.
Corona is with no doubt a contagious and threatening disease, which is not only hitting to human entity but also wiping out the most powerful countries of the world and their economies. Under the story line of destruction of powerful countries, under-developed countries will face unimaginable destruction. Pakistan’s struggle to overcome the epidemic is better yet not preferable. As an embryonic country, she is facing a whole heap of problems and draw near a bunch of disasters will emerge. This epidemic is not only killing people by disease, but also by hunger. It doubles and triples the rate of devastation.
Wu, f., Zhao, S., Yu, B., Chen, y. M., Wang, W., Song, Z.G., and Yuan, M. L. (2020). A new corona virus associated with human respiratory disease in china. Nature, 579 (7798), 265–2 Yang,
Y., Shang, W., and Rao, X. (2020). Facing the COVID-19 outbreak: what should we know and what could we do? Journal of medical virology.
Saqalain, M., Munir, M. M., Ahmed, A., Tahir, A. H., and Kamran, S. (2020). Is Pakistan prepared to tackle the corona virus epidemic?. Drugs and Therapy perspective, 1–2.