Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces. It was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally, resulting in an ongoing pandemic. As of May 2020, more than 4 million cases have been reported across 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 300,000 deaths. More than 1.5 million people have recovered. Common symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and taste. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms. The time from exposure to onset of symptoms is typically around five days but may range from two to fourteen days.
STRUCTURE OF CORONA VIRUS
The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, most often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, and talking. The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than travelling through air over long distances. Less commonly, people may become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread is possible before symptoms appear, and from people who do not show symptoms. In this way this disease is more dangerous than it seems.
In the weeks since Pakistan’s first confirmed cases of coronavirus, the country’s response has laid bare troubling weaknesses in governance, public health, and economic stability and raised serious questions about Pakistan’s capacity to weather a large-scale outbreak absent significant international assistance.
The government has imposed lockdown in all major cities: schools, industries, commercial centers, intercity and public transports, domestic / international flights closed, cargo and special humanitarian flights, land borders closed, local markets closed (except grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations), social distancing imposed, all social gatherings banned(some resistance from religious groups and small traders in view of the Muslim month of Ramadan). All travelers coming from abroad are quarantined. Federal and provincial governments are planning imposition of smart lockdown based on ‘tracking-tracing-screening’. All the examinations of school and colleges have been cancelled and students are promoted to next classes. In addition, the PM of Pakistan, has created a volunteer force CRTF (Corona Relief Tiger Force) of young civilians to help the government fight against this deadly disease.
BADGE OF CRTF
Social distancing policies, necessary to stop the spread of the virus, have sent the global economy reeling, paralyzed the informal economy, and left Pakistan’s most vulnerable without income and sustenance. Meanwhile, despite a $7.5 billion relief package, both central and provincial governments have struggled to respond as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise daily. As the situation stands, much more will be needed for Pakistan to effectively address the crisis. Till today’s date there are 44,441 confirmed cases in Pakistan.
The COVID-19 impact on the Pakistani economy is estimated to be equivalent to 0.8-1.3% of the GDP. Imports are estimated to decrease by 50-60%, exports by 10-20%. Employment loss is estimated at 20%. Pakistan’s textile exports suffered a decline of 64.5% during the month of April down to US$ 403 Million compared to last year due mainly to cancellations of orders and shipment delays.
LOSS IN ECONOMY
In addition to the severe human cost, the COVID-19 crisis has forced Pakistan’s already suffering economy to a grinding halt, which was the result of stabilization measures adopted by the government and the State Bank of Pakistan. Then came Covid-19, triggering lockdowns across Pakistan. These lockdowns have created lots of socio-economic problems. Although charity organizations actively jumped in to provide essential food items to a large chunk of people, the scale is quite large and it is not easy to reach out to all the deserving people. This lockdown has scaled down the consumption of petroleum products a great deal, which has resulted in partial closure of refineries and the government has to cut down on petroleum imports. However, this situation deteriorates and many laborers have gone back to their native villages and towns since they are not in a position to work in these big cities where they used to do. Due to the extended lockdown in large industrial centers, output for large scale industry fell by 23% during the month of April and car sales registered ‘zero sales’ during the month of March, this means that the next few months or may be years are going to be so tough for Pakistan
The are many questions arising under current situation and many threats appears but if the government does astute planning and tries to implement its measures in true letter and spirit, the extreme crisis could be managed with little economic, political and social loss. Under the current crisis, the role of public policy is the key. We can only hope for the best by completing our responsibilities and taking all precautionary measures. May Allah bless us in all ways (Ameen).