Over the past couple of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. With more than 180,000 confirmed cases worldwide and a death toll of more than 7000 according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the worst health crisis to hit our generation.
Pakistan has been lucky that, despite having two of the most hard-hit countries as our neighbours, we have not yet seen the worst of the pandemic. This does not mean that we have been able to contain it. Specialists with WHO have said that contagion cannot be controlled, it can only be delayed. This means that while we have had time to prepare for when it truly hits the Pakistani population, we should not take it lightly. It is only a question of how well-prepared we can be when it inevitable hits.
The Federal and Provincial governments have been making efforts to spread awareness on the many precautions everyone can take to protect themselves from contagion. The public has been guided on social distancing and hygienic measures. At the same time governments have also been working to ensure the provision of healthcare to each patient. This includes preparing isolation camps for confirmed cases as well as testing facilities that are safe for healthcare practitioners and suspected patients.
Amidst the chaos, provincial governments have begun blaming each other for allowing the spread of the virus. The Sindh government, which is handling the largest number of confirmed cases with almost 200 patients, allegedly initiated a social media campaign through bloggers and news media to blame the government of Balochistan for contagion in Sindh. They have said that the Balochistan government failed to stop the influx of infected travellers from the border at Taftan. Most of these people travelled to Sindh which is what made the virus spread there.
The smear campaign has targeted the Federal and Balochistan governments while portraying Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah as the only hero. It has distracted from actual efforts the government of Balochistan has made to control contagion, despite Taftan border being a federal subject. The ground realities are very different.
Thousands of travellers have been stopped and quarantined at Taftan. The Balochistan government has also closed down schools, offices and various public spaces to contain contagion. The Prime Minister Imran Khan even praised the Chief Minister Jam Kamal as well as the government of Balochistan for their efforts.
What needs to be understood is that no one government can be blamed for spreading the novel coronavirus, nor can they be lauded for curbing it. As the World Health Organization has stated, contagion is inevitable. The most we can do is take precautions to delay it so our healthcare systems may attempt to cope with it. Each government is making as much of an effort as they can while also urging their constituents to do the same.
We have seen COVID-19 bring healthcare systems in some of the most developed countries in the world to their knees. Our healthcare system already lags behind as it is. There is no time to blame each other for not doing enough. The Federal and Provincial governments must play their individual parts while supporting each other through these trying times. We all need to make an effort to protect ourselves and those around us.
- Practice social distancing. Avoid leaving your homes unless extremely necessary.
- Wash your hands with soap and water as often as you can.
- Use hand sanitizers in the absence of water.
- If you have any symptoms, self isolate.
- Listen to your local governments and healthcare authorities.
*Note: All statistics provided were true as of March 18th, 2020