Why PM Khan remained ambivalent about lockdown?

Opposition parties, TV anchors, media commentators and and Twitter warriors all have been hitting PM Khan for remaining hesitant about lockdown decision. But TV Anchor, Shifa Yousafzai, explains that PM Khan may have been right about his fears of the impacts of a total lockdown. We are not fighting against a "virus" but against ignorance insanity and irresponsibility argues Shiffa!

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Prevention is better than cure and all the sane people and many on media have responsibly been trying to make people understand why it is better to stay at home instead of enjoying these two weeks break from work elsewhere.

Many in Pakistan have not been taking this emergency situation very seriously, some corona patients have ran away from the quarantine centres risking the lives of others and later were arrested by the Police and brought back to be quarantined, some with the symptoms have bribed the authorities to let them go from the airports, many have started to get themselves tested without even having any corona like symptoms, everything else can be closed down but the mosques because that is potentially another explosive issue. So the challenge for the government is not just Corona but the ignorance, insanity, and irresponsibility of people here.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in his recent address to the nation explained why he doesn’t want to go towards a lockdown – one of the main reason he feels is that it would take the nation to another level of chaos and panic and would affect the daily wager, laborers, etc.

Read more: Corona Epidemic: Imran Khan fighting his biggest challenge?

Pakistan is the sixth most populated country on the globe but with that, we are also a poor country. And according to some reports, more than 25% of that population lives below the poverty line. There are daily wagers who come out of their homes to earn bread for their families. Then Pakistan’s economy itself is not very stable and since the corona crisis has hit us we have already started to witness shocks. Although friends like China have always been there for us. But keeping in mind all these things the decision for a lockdown isn’t easy. Its a catch 22.

Having said that, many on social media and on TV have been demanding the PM to announce a complete lockdown in the country. Now the word lockdown sounds like a complete shut down – does it not? The literal and actual meaning of the word in dictionary & on google is ‘The state of isolation or restricted access instituted as a security measure’. But I doubt that intellectuals and almost 80% of media practitioners do not really understand how a lockdown would be.

When we say the country has been locked down – that still would not mean a complete shutdown. That is what needs to be understood.

The virus will stay around, and will make circles like dengue. We don’t have those kind of facilities to handle such pandemics in fact the world doesn’t have those kind of facilities

What to expect from a lockdown:

  • All would be asked to work from home – already happening.
  • Employees who are irreplaceable would be asked to be present at workplaces – already happening.
  • Sports activities, schools, colleges, universities to be closed down – already happening.
  • Malls, restaurants, shops (except grocery stores and medical stores) to be closed – already happening.
  • Public transport to be closed – already happening.
  • Army be asked to keep a watch over the cities.
  • Road network will remain open and essential travel in cars, bikes, etc would be allowed.
  • Interprovincial travel may be disrupted.

Lockdown is a good way to keep people at homes but if we look at Italy despite the lockdown put in place almost two weeks ago the coronavirus cases continue to rise. PM’s team on this challenge need to study Italy what went wrong there despite the lockdown?

Therefore, what is more impactful – making people understand how it is not only about them but about the elderly living with them at homes, about their children, about their neighbors living next door, about their maids and helpers working in their homes, about their co-workers.

Read more: We are failing to fight Coronavirus with true spirit

If we compare lockdown with no lockdown it may seems like having a lockdown for two weeks may be helpful but that alone will not help as people will still be coming out of their homes to go to grocery stores, or medical stores. It is people who need to understand that we are a population of 220 million people and if the corona cases get out of control it is going to be catastrophic.

Economic revival too will not be possible in a year with ailing population living in fear. The virus will stay around, and will make circles like dengue. We don’t have those kind of facilities to handle such pandemics in fact the world doesn’t have those kind of facilities.

What’s happening in the world?

For instance in Washington people are unable to buy essential items after panic buying intensified. Hospitals in US need ventilators but cannot afford them as one basic ventilator costs $25,000 and advance ventilator costs around $50,000. Many there also argue that there is a short term need for the ventilators, what are we supposed to do with them after corona crisis ends? Doctors are struggling with shortage of supplies in the hospitals, have been re-using gloves. There is a shortage of test kits, beds, gloves, masks etc.

Similarly in Canada too is a shortage of supplies, safety gear for doctors, nurses and paramedics. Nurses in Alberta have recently refused to perform corona tests on the patients with corona symptoms unless they are provided with masks and safety gear.

In UK, I just found out that a friend’s wife has been showing corona like symptoms for over a week but is denied testing and is advised to stay at home and self-isolate. So there is a global shortage of supplies and facilities which I believe just exposed the most talked about and unbeatable advanced health care systems of the developed world.

Another potential threat from a lockdown is the food inflation as observed in other parts of the world.

The total number of cases exceeded 300,000 and the death toll is 13,000. Mike Ryan, a WHO expert in an interview on Andrew Marr Show said that, “Lockdown alone wouldn’t help defeat coronavirus, we need to put in place public health measures. We need to focus on finding those who are sick with the virus, isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them too.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan must think through it, and make a decision after observing all the pros and cons of a lockdown consulting the experts and the stakeholders. But do not make that decision hastily just because media is making noise.

Shiffa Yousafzai is a TV presenter & producer with Hum News. She is an International Alumni Ambassador for Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, where she studied Multimedia Journalism. Earlier, she graduated with business and marketing at Air University, Islamabad. Shiffa could be followed on twitter @Shiffa_ZY and on Facebook @ShiffaYousafzai. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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