Is ‘smart lockdown’ only way to curb spread of coronavirus?

As COVID-19 cases jumped to 165,062 after 4,944 new infections were detected in Pakistan over the past 24 hours while 136 more people succumbed to the deadly disease, is the smart lockdown proving to be effective?

The government believes that the smart lockdown only way to curb spread of coronavirus. 

The head of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) Asad Umar appealed on Thursday that the nationals must strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) against coronavirus formulated by the government, local media reported. The government believes that the smart lockdown only way to curb spread of coronavirus.

The Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside information minister Senator Shibli Faraz, said that the authorities were implementing smart lockdown measures across the country.

The statistics collected with the help of modern technology were forwarded to all provinces and relevant steps will be taken within two days. “The federal government is working with provinces for enhancing healthcare facilities on a priority basis. It is important to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supplies to the hospitals besides increasing the number of beds [for the COVID-19 patients],” he said.

Read More: After successfully containing COVID-19, Pakistan goes for smart lockdown

“We are taking necessary steps for the protection of hospital staff members and also working on packages for providing assistance to the medics working on the front line to fight COVID-19,” he added.

Smart lockdown only way to curb spread of coronavirus?

A list was finalized to lock down the streets of 32 areas in Lahore to counter novel coronavirus. The areas included Chaman Bagh, Rajgarh, Ramnagar, Qilla Gujjar Singh, Abdul Kareem Road, Usmania Colony, Royal Park, Karim Park at Shafiqabad, Goal Bagh at Shadbagh, Bagumkot, Shama Colony near Shahdara, Ravi Clifton, Hanif Park, Malik Park, Johar Town (B, F2, J2 and G3 blocks), Canal View Society B Block, Wapda Town (F2, G blocks), PCSIR Phase II B Block, Gulberg (A3, B2, B1 blocks), Sirajpura Darogawala, A and B blocks of Bismillah Housing Scheme, Manawan, DHA Phase 1 (all sectors), Askari 10 (complete), DHA Phase-5 (all sectors), Cavalry Ground (Shiraz Villas), eight streets of Gulshan Colony, Quaid-i-Millat Colony in Kotlakhpat area, Ghosia Colony in North Cantt, F Block 400-440 of Gulshan-i-Ravi, backside of Lahore General Hospital, Alhamad Colony, Islampura, etc.

Committees constituted to monitor daily affairs

As a complete list finalized to lock down streets in Lahore, the Punjab government has constituted three committees, giving them various assignments in the wake of the ‘smart lockdown’.

The committee for operational plan will comprise the Lahore commissioner, deputy commissioner, the capital city police officer, the Rescue 1122 DG, DHA CEO and representatives of agriculture, food, and livestock departments.

Another committee shall monitor the supply chain of essential commodities and shall consist of ADC, AC concerned, DO industries, DO livestock, DO Food, secretary market committee and the representatives of wholesale markets and superstores.

The medical and emergency response committee shall comprise the ADC, CEO DHA and the representatives of health department.

Read More: Why are COVID-19 cases increasing in Pakistan?

Earlier addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister Secretariat, Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid said In the last two days, the worst-hit areas include Shahdra, Walled City, Mozang, Shadbagh, Harbanspura, Gulberg, Cantt, Nishtar Town, Allama Iqbal Town and some other small housing societies.

It is worth recalling that Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained coronavirus-free until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive after returning from Iran – one of the worst-hit countries. After a brief hiatus following the first case, Covid-19 cases spiked as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the virus.

Premature easing of lockdown restrictions and its consequences

Experts in Pakistan have warned against the premature easing of lockdown restrictions, fearing an exponential rise in infections. One healthcare worker said: “Everyone’s scared and exhausted. But we are fighting, we are pushing the limits. All we ask is that the government and people understand that they can help us help them by staying at home and providing us quality protective gear.”

Pakistanis are largely violating the SOPs issued by the government to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Dr. Ahmed Usman, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, believes that: “Pakistani society is generally considered as a traditional society whose fabric is woven with the threads of norms, values, and cultures that are mostly shaped up by the complex theological underpinnings. Societal norms encourage social gatherings and overwhelming ways to express care, grief, and sorrow. The patterns of greetings are further formed as per religious frameworks that yet again emphasizes on kindness, generosity, and warmth ensured through reducing the physical gap between people. Religious rituals including Ibadaat at Mosques and religious congregations are considered compulsory in Islam. With this kind of widespread belief system, people believe that while they are in a state of ablution, no disease can harm them.”

Read More:  COVID-19 in Pakistan: Is the government going to re-impose lockdown?

Why is the Punjab government going to re-impose a two-week lockdown in Lahore? Dr. Usman notes that “arguably, the belief system encourages them to violate the man-made rules of lockdown that they think are baseless and a conspiracy of enemies to weaken the connection between God and them.  As lockdown restricts people from going to mosques and attending congregational prayers, it is considered an enemy’s tool to disconnect true Muslims from thy Lord.”

Now the government believes that the smart lockdown only way to curb spread of coronavirus. It successfully implements it, it may be able to contain the spread of virus.

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