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Rising COVID-19 in Pakistan: Stupid it’s the air pollution

Nobody cares about the situation of air pollution in the country. Pakistan needs to take immediate steps to improve the air quality in major cities.

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Rising COVID-19 cases in Pakistan can be attributed not only to the violation of SOPs but also to the low quality of air in major cities. Studies by internationally recognized institutes have pointed out the relation of the high incidence of COVID-19 with bad air quality. The following evidence establishes that the rise in cases in Pakistan is caused by bad air pollution in major cities. Therefore, the country’s policymakers need to take both short and long term measures in the environmental sector to fight the pandemics.

Clearly, the Pakistanis are not following the SOPs as most of the people still either believe that the Coronavirus does not exist or that they are immune to it. It has been their position since the pandemic has started. Some qualities played a role in the low rate of infection in the country in the first wave. In the second wave, even though the behavior of citizens has remained the same, the COVID-19 positivity rate has reached 9.71 percent.

The country reported 2963 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours bringing the number of active cases to 45,324 with 60 new deaths.

Nobody cares about the situation of air pollution in the country. Pakistan needs to take immediate steps to improve the air quality in major cities.

What has caused a rise in cases?

Winter could be the cause but we do not have any evidence to reach any conclusion. However, the low quality of air in major cities of the country may have caused a jump. World Health Organization’s Dr. Maria Neira says, “If you realise that exposure to air pollution will increase the risk of diseases of the respiratory system – and the COVID-19 is mainly a disease of the respiratory system – you will realise that we are increasing the susceptibility, the vulnerability of people who are exposed to air pollution.”

For example, Karachi has the highest positivity ratio of 21 percent and it ranks worst on the global Air Quality Index (AQI) with 351 particulate matter in the latest measurements. Hyderabad has the second highest positivity ratio of 19.3 percent and it’s AQI is 146 (that is unhealthy). Lahore has a positivity ratio of 6 percent and it is ranked fourth worst on AQI with 214. Similarly in neighboring India, as Delhi slipped from the worst position in AQI to third, its positivity ratio also dropped from 15.26 percent in early November to 3.68 on Sunday.

In winter, the air is heavier which causes poisonous gases in the atmosphere to move downwards and pollute the atmosphere. Most of the poisonous smoke comes from factories, coal, and thermal power plants, vehicles, and stubble burning which is most common in this season.

Read more: Are Pakistan’s health systems prepared for a COVID-19 vaccine?

Address the air pollution

Nobody cares about the situation of air pollution in the country. Pakistan needs to take immediate steps to improve the air quality in major cities.

Firstly, a policy needs to be announced to reduce the traffic from the cities – an odd-even policy can be adopted for a week or two. Old vehicles like the Bedford trucks of the 1960s which emit huge amounts of smoke should be banned. Secondly, zig-zag brick kiln technology needs to be introduced across the country.

Thirdly, stable burning must be heavily punished. Fourthly, coal and thermal powered plants need to be made efficient if not shut down. Fifthly, the local administration should be directed to implement SOPs in public places. Finally, a national emergency may be declared aiming at containing the pandemic but in a comprehensive way such as by including environmental-friendly actions.

Read more: COVID-19: Truth about World Order is not what you think!

Fahad Aziz Taherani is the Coordinating Editor at Global Village Space (GVS) News Publication. He has a keen interest in Central Superior Services of Pakistan. He tweets at fahadtaherani. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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