Tackling Rapid Coronavirus Increase

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Hamza Ali

As the death toll has risen to over four hundred thousand with almost 3000 cases being reported daily, there is a need to strictly follow SOPs though WHO says Pakistan is among countries from whom the international community should learn how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The second wave is more lethal despite the nation displayed unity and civic sense but there is a dire need to curtail social exposure; the shortage of ICU beds, ventilators and even oxygen may cause severe damage to government’s efforts. Rapid increase in positive cases requires urgent steps to save lives and livelihoods; citizens should help in implementing safety guidelines in public places.

The virus has infected nearly 67 million people and killed close to 1.6 million. “Today marks an overdue and much-needed moment of reckoning. None of us could have imagined, this time last year, what was to come,” said General Assembly president Volkan Bozkir. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “it is time to reset”, the global response to crises like this. “As we build a strong recovery, we must seize the opportunity for change”.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan while describing the Covid-19 pandemic as “the most serious global crisis since WWII, presented a 10-point agenda for urgent action before the UN GA, underlying the measures the world community needs to take to defeat the pandemic. The first item on his list is a request for debt suspension till the end of the pandemic for low-income and most affected countries. He suggested cancellation of debt of least developed countries that are no longer in a position to repay their loans. Other items on the agenda include: restructuring of the public sector debt of other developing countries under an agreed inclusive multilateral framework; a general allocation of special drawing rights of &500 billion; expanded concessional financing to lower income countries through multilateral development banks; and creation of a new ‘liquidity and sustainability facility’, which should provide short-term loans at lower costs. The agenda also includes a reminder to rich nations to fulfill 0.7 percent of their official development assistance commitments and mobilizing the required $1.5 trillion annual investment in sustainable infrastructure. He also urged the world to help meet the agreed target of mobilizing $100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries. He called for immediate action to stop massive illicit financial outflows from developing countries to rich countries, to offshore tax havens. He also suggested immediate return of assets stolen by corrupt politicians and criminals back to these countries.

On the other hand, various countries have taken strict measures to live with the coronavirus. Take example of Tokyo; the Japanese government committee chairman has said that it takes at least one and a half years for the vaccine to be fully developed and officially put into use. Since the enemy cannot be completely eliminated, it is necessary to learn to coexist with the virus. “Only by following the new rules of life can we live in peace with the corona virus for a long time. In fact, most of the methods have been implemented in China.

The Japanese government while deciding to coexist with the demon, announced the “new life model” calling the people to be prepared to follow this model for an extended period of time and learn to live and work with the virus. Looking closely at these new life models, it can be seen that the Japanese government established these very practical set of SOPs using principles of rationality, science, and risk assessment. There are three basic points: keep a distance between people; wear a mask; and wash hands frequently.

Specific requirements urge people to keep a distance of two meters; play as much as possible outdoors; try to avoid being face to face direct facing when speaking to other people; go home and wash your face and clothes immediately; wash as soon as you touch someone’s hand; try online shopping and electronic settlement; supermarket shopping is best for 1 person, to choose time there are less people; try not to touch commodity samples; don’t talk on public transportation; go to work by bike or on foot; it is best to use electronic business cards; try to use video conference when meeting; to control the number of people in meetings, wear masks and open windows for ventilation; work at home or commute at off peak time; do not go to countries or places where the virus is endemic; try not to return home to visit relatives and travel, and control business trips; when you have symptoms, remember where you went and who you met; eat meals with others not face to face, preferably side by side; do not use large bowls and large pots to share food, implement a divided individual portion system; chat less at meal, eat more vegetables; try not to have too many people gathering at meal together as possible; avoid closed spaces, dense crowd flow, intimate contact; self-test body temperature every morning to strengthen health management; cover the lid when flushing the toilet; don’t stay too long in a narrow space; when walking and running, the number of people should be small, when meet each other stagger the distance.

Unfortunately, amidst the second wave of coronavirus, which is spreading at intense pace, due to which more than 50 deaths are being recorded daily, the public gatherings and rallies by PDM are continuing to hold. They may not accept it because it’s against their political ego, but they must realize that the common sense directly relates to the lives of innocent people. Their gathering in large numbers will put the people’s life at risk of death as the resurge of coronavirus is already playing havoc. This is like going insane to fulfilling venomous objectives. Playing with people’s life is a deliberate attempt to obliterate masses – for the sake of no return. If PDM continues doing so, the cases of coronavirus contract increase manifold.

It is predicted that the coronavirus increase will die down soon, our National Disaster Management department is doing well in this direction, but many opine that it would stay even longer than expected. So, Pakistan needs to adopt measures like that of Japan and the political parties must shun the path of dragging people to risk of life only for fulfilling their political agendas.

(The writer is freelance columnist)