Stop Blaming Govt Over Coronavirus And Learn To Take Responsibility

Stop Blaming Govt Over Coronavirus And Learn To Take Responsibility
Osama Rizvi writes about the role citizens ought to play in Pakistan's fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He urges the public to learn to follow instructions and avoid the blame game.

The total number of confirmed cases in Pakistan now nears 50,000 and the number of deaths has crossed the 1,000 mark. As I noted in my previous article, the number of 'true cases' is more than these. The reason is that many people are asymptomatic carriers of Coronavirus, spreading the disease unknowingly. While the low rate of casualties in Pakistan (and in South Asia) is a good sign for us; let’s not get complacent. We should stop blaming the government, take responsibility, act sensibly, and avoid conspiracies.

We all have seen the images and videos being circulated on the internet showing customers thronging the markets after the lockdown was eased last week. Few were wearing masks, others simply didn’t care. It was strange, encouraging and a tad ironic that the same people grumbling about a fall in income were able to uphold the culture of consumerism even during these testing times.

As Eid-ul-Fitr approaches nigh we should see and expect more people heading to the shop, translating into a rise in the number of cases in the coming weeks. 

There are two approaches that dominate the mindset of our people. One is to blame the government for easing the lockdown and second to sustain in a continued state of denial regarding the existence of Coronavirus combined with skepticism vis a viz the numbers (of cases and deaths related to it). Before we address both, let’s just talk about a few facts. First, it is true that Pakistan has been lucky in terms of deaths and nobody knows the specific reason for it. Some opine that it is due to the immunity and others that we might be in an early stage of this pandemic (which is frightening and I hope it isn’t true). 

Second, as the total number of cases around the world is way more than currently being reported so the fatality rate may have been misreported. New research hints that it isn’t as deadly as was being portrayed. Third, and I repeat, it is asymptomatic, which means you may have it but won’t realize.

Now; as SC ordered to open up the malls and government eased the lockdown, people stormed the internet criticizing government’s actions. However, a question arises here: if these shopping malls are open is it mandatory for us to go out in swarms and shop? Is there an incentive to shop for Eid when not only Pakistan but the whole world is shrouded in an air of uncertainty and grief? We have to evaluate the government’s decision with a certain reference to context. The people there have to consider the bigger picture - they need to take many factors into consideration. The rationale behind easing the lockdown was to provide a breather to the stifling economy. But wasn’t it our responsibility to avoid going out only out of necessity and not for recreation? Why do we felt compelled to visit the markets once the lockdown was eased? This shows our own indifference that results in this carelessness. 

It leads us to the second approach that we use in order to play down the severity, seriousness, and gravity of the current situation. We are always in the love of conspiracy theories: A foreign ploy, an evil scheme by a selected few, that something doesn’t even exist or something that doesn’t, does - these and many others. It is the same for Coronavirus. It is both surprising and deplorable to see a huge section of our society that point-blank denies the very existence of this virus and play it as some propaganda. Then there are few who acknowledge its presence but refuse to accept the stats on cases and deaths. Some say the government is only showing these numbers to win some debt relief or swindle more money from international institutions. The list is long and so is the explanation to counter such an inane narrative. 

Let’s just say that this type of thinking is naïve, criminally negligent, and highly irresponsible. How do you expect people to take precautions who refuse to believe that Coronavirus even exists? They not only risk their own life but that of others too.

For the skeptics, in this age of technology and awareness to what extent can government fudge/fabricate the figures of deaths and cases? Let’s assume that there have been such cases but these are outliers and shouldn’t be used to corrupt the whole sample set!

I’ll conclude with a request: Please learn to follow instructions and take responsibility; avoid the blame game. Our government’s performance isn’t that bad (I believe it is commendable). Behave sensibly, look around people are getting infected, many are dying. Don’t dwell on conspiracies, it will not do any good to you but you may end up doing harm to others while believing in them. You have nothing to do to prove whether this is a “third world war” or “man-made virus”. You have only one obligation - to protect yourself and others!

The writer is a freelance journalist. He is an editor at an European digital magazine and a commodity analyst for various media outlets.