The unprecedented global pandemic of Covid-19 brought the world to its heels. Although almost every country on the planet was woefully affected by this pestilence, the effects were far more devastating on the developing countries. Pakistan, being one of the third world countries was already in gloomy waters, and to add insult to the injury this pandemic wreaked further havoc on its ever-dwindling economy. To handle the crisis effectively, the idea of smart lock down was promulgated by the Punjab government.
According to the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Pakistan has already lost Rs 2.5 trillion to the wraths brought upon by this deadly virus. Analyzing the whole situation, the government had multi-folded challenges to cope with; on the one end, it had to prevent the public from being affected by this virus and on the other end, it had to safeguard people of lower-strata from dying of hunger. The upper-middle-class and upwards, are unsusceptible to the economic challenges faced by the daily-wagers and other people of lower economic classes.
According to the study published in Oxfam, “As many as 12,000 people could die (globally) per day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to COVID-19, potentially more than could die from the disease”.
Contrary to the political jargon of PTI that they were the first in the world to introduce this strategy, Germany and Portugal were already implementing it. However, Pakistan was globally applauded for effectively carrying out the smart-lock down, where they mitigated the effects of the pandemic on the general population, as well as provided daily-wagers with a chance to fulfill their basic needs.
NDMA progress regarding COVID 19
Smart lockdown is a “targeted tracking, tracing, testing, and quarantine mechanism”. In Pakistan, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) traces the hotspots by variance in the number of cases according to the vicinity, and after the identification of blocks with excessive cases, those selected areas are cordoned off for a specific time. In Pakistan, initially on June 23, smart lock down was imposed all across the country after 500 coronavirus hotspots were identified by NDMA. Later, on July 24, the Punjab government sealed off its seven cities for 15 days.
Although, from the very start the ransack effects of this deadly virus were very much in control in Pakistan as compared to the rest of the world, but after Eid-ul-Fitr a precipitous surge in cases was witnessed. This generated a sense of panic in the upper-economic classes who demanded a complete lock down, oblivious to the agonies faced by the destitute. Luckily, the government acted with prudence during those testing times, where according to statistics, a steep decline from 6800 cases in mid-June to 1209 in July was observed, largely as a result of smart lock down.
Pakistan has not been completely immune from the pandemic yet; where specter of second wave of cases is haunting, many are also suggesting that the impact of the virus is almost alleviated. Whatever the case, the perilous economic situation of Pakistan cannot afford another full-scale lockdown; therefore, smart lockdown seems the best course of action to embrace the future.