Pakistan Government’s Tone-Deaf Response To The COVID-19 Outbreak

Pakistan Government’s Tone-Deaf Response To The COVID-19 Outbreak
The novel COVID-19 has taken charge of Pakistan in a manner that has frightened masses. Pakistan stood at more than 50 cases of the virus on Sunday, March 15 and we have since been witnessing an alarming increase in numbers. The country has reported a whopping 700% surge in coronavirus cases in the past week. As the tally inches closer to 800 confirmed infections with Sindh leading the front, one can only imagine how irresponsibly our government has handled the sudden outbreak of the coronavirus.

The media is largely responsible for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 like wildfire. Countless myths about the disease have blurred our judgement to tell right from wrong. The dumbfounded questions posed by most of our anchors on the subject have also contributed to the practice of poor journalism.

As civilians, we expect our government to make rational decisions on behalf of us, however it only represents our country’s downtrodden segment, which itself is blindly unaware of the disease. The lower class makes the majority of our population and our inattention towards it could potentially result in higher cases. From setting up horrendous quarantine camps at our border with Iran to our Prime Minister Imran Khan sermonizing uselessly, our efforts have proven futile in mitigating the impact of COVID-19. Khan’s laughable plea to have Pakistan’s international debt waived during the pandemic is a clutter he and his party are solely responsible for.

Medical facilities across the country lack ventilators and other important equipment to accommodate seriously ill patients. This poses a grave threat to an influx of tens and hundreds of undiagnosed COVID-19 carriers who may require medical assistance in the coming days.

Perhaps a more significant concern for the country right now is to enforce a complete lockdown of major provinces impacted by the illness. Social distancing and self-isolation are the safest remedies to stop the spread of COVID-19, which makes a lockdown crucial.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has procrastinated the lockdown and we have since witnessed a momentous rise in coronavirus cases in the country. His supposition that this disease would eventually die out in hot and dry weather gives ignorance a whole new meaning. Let’s also not turn a blind eye to those who are undiagnosed carriers of coronavirus.

The capital city, Islamabad has one of the lowest COVID-19 counts, making it the next possible target for the spread of the illness. Section 144 came into effect two days ago to curtail the sudden growth of the virus across the country but it may be too late for that now.

Amidst a social upheaval, it is necessary to practice certain measures independently to stop the spread of the disease. Staying home should be our only priority for now. Avoid physical contact with the outside world and include immunity boosters in your diet such as fruits and vegetables. Use hand sanitizers and wash hands thoroughly. Avoid touching door knobs or buttons that are widely used by the public. Practice, implement and preach these effective measures to help yourself and others around you.

The author is an actor, model and writer for fashion magazines OK! Pakistan, Good Times (GT) magazine, The Express Tribune and Daily Times. He is the creator and host of Pakistan's first ever web talk show on YouTube titled 'The Haider Rifaat Show' and will make his feature film debut in 24 HOURS.