Pakistan is in the mid of disastrous coronavirus. The country has recorded a plethora of cases with several deaths. Consequently, the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote a letter to Pakistan for intermittent lockdown; the health agency also shared loopholes in the policy of the government. Reciprocally, several people including eminent social activists shared their views regarding the federal government policies.
Soon after Pakistan eased the lockdown, COVID-19 cases rapidly soared in the country. Currently, there are 113,702 cases in the country along with 2,244 deaths. Besides, WHO criticized the government for lifting a lockdown as Pakistan does not meet WHO recommendations to ease the lockdown.
Recommendations to life the lockdown.
1. Disease transmission is under control
2. Health systems are able to “detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”
3. Hot spot risks are minimized in vulnerable places, such as nursing homes
4. Schools, workplaces and other essential places have established preventive measures
5. The risk of importing new cases “can be managed”
6. Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to live under a new normal (source: NPR)
Notwithstanding, Pakistan does not completely abide by the any of aforementioned recommendations. However, Pakistan lifted the lockdown, which led to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
What did the WHO say?
Primarily, WHO wrote the letter, to Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid. Moreover, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, WHO Country Head for Pakistan, penned the letter.
“Government intervention on April 12 detailing social distancing measures, including movement restrictions, closure of schools and businesses, international travel restrictions, and geographical area restrictions were instituted with the aim of limiting the spread of the disease.”
— SMT PPP Thatta Humair Iqbal (@HumairIqbal1) June 9, 2020
“The positivity rate is high, the surveillance system is weak, there is limited capacity to provide for critical patients and the population is not ready to adapt to change in behavior,” the letter stated.
Moreover, it reads, “these difficult decisions will require the need to balance the response directly to Covid-19 which includes intermittent lockdowns of targeted areas.”
The response of the govt
As per Dr. Yasmin Rashid, the letter was for the whole of Pakistan not only Pakistan. In a press conference, she said, “I have been telling you since day one that the number of cases [in the province] is increasing, no data is being hidden.
“The main thing that they have said is to ensure the implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs). This discussion has already taken place. In his last meeting, the Punjab chief minister stressed on taking action in areas where there are violations.
Furthermore, she said, “The current situation, whatever WHO says, right now we can also treat patients. The purpose of a lockdown is to prevent flooding of hospitals. We have a contingency plan […] right now we have the capacity [to treat patients] and will increase it in the next 10 to 15 days.”
Besides, Dr. Zafar Mirza said that it is not mandatory to follow the recommendations of the organization. “Government has adopted a planned strategy to deal with the coronavirus. We do have an option of lockdown but people are advised to follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for now.”
“It is impossible to defeat coronavirus without changing attitudes,” he said. Moreover, he maintained, “the government knows what is in the best interest of people.”
Here is how people on social media reacted to the WHO letter and criticized the federal government
The journalist Wajahat Kazmi said
Remember how the govt handled this pandemic and plunged the country in a terrible tragedy. pic.twitter.com/o1ok1ThXO3
— Wajahat Kazmi (@KazmiWajahat) June 10, 2020
This is what TV host Shafaat Ali said
WHO letter to Pakistan is embarrassing. While some were busy in petty politics, delusional denials, boasted our BCG immunity and called a global pandemic ‘just a flu’, Sind Govt was focused on how to manage this crisis. We must have listened to them then and we must do it now
— Shafaat Ali (@iamshafaatali) June 10, 2020
‘WHO did not accept show off of Pakistan’
WHO did not accept show off of Pakistan … very good that they write letter to pakistan Govt.
— … (@_imranwasim) June 9, 2020
Here’s what Fahd Hussain said
WHO has said Pakistan has been ranked among the top 10 countries in the world reporting highest number of new cases of Covid-19 & advised the government to enhance daily testing capacity to 50,000 to assess the actual prevalence of coronavirus across the country #COVIDー19 (2/7)
— Fahd Husain (@Fahdhusain) June 10, 2020
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