Fall in COVID-19 cases surprises health professionals

The sharp but welcome decline in the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths caused by the pandemic has puzzled acknowledged health professionals, who were painting a doomsday scenario if Pakistan did not change the course

Jul 29, 2020

The sharp but welcome decline in the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths caused by the pandemic has puzzled acknowledged health professionals, who were painting a doomsday scenario if Pakistan did not change the course.

The phenomenal break to the spread of the coronavirus in Pakistan has equally bamboozled doctors and experts in several countries of the world as their own nations are reeling under the heavy burden of the uncontrollable disease. As the scourge struck Pakistan in March and started wreaking havoc, bewildering all and sundry, the top doctors, whose opinion is universally accepted as gospel truth, beseeched the government day in and day out to enforce a severe nationwide lockdown for a couple of weeks to avoid the disaster.

The government initially did impose lockdown, though reluctantly, for a few weeks in the beginning but later it stood its ground not to resort to this measure that it said would impinge hard on the daily wage earners and the poor. At the very outset, the Sindh government took the lead in introducing lockdown leaving other provinces to follow the suit. The handling of the crisis by this provincial administration has been widely acclaimed.

Although the health professionals regardless of their affiliations with public or private sectors are equally thrilled over the incredible nose-dive of the tally of COVID-19 patients and fatality rate, they are cautiously optimistic about the sustainability of this trajectory in view of the general laid-back attitude of the people.

They say that any negligence on the part of the government and citizens has the potential of deteriorating the situation once again. They recommend that the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) specified for the Eidul Azha and Muharramul Haram must be followed in letter and spirit.

Given the early steady rise in the number of patients and deaths ratio, the distinguished health professionals kept issuing warnings that the internationally recognised measures like social distancing and wearing of masks must be abided by otherwise Pakistan’s weak health system would be overwhelmed. They even predicted that if the present pace of the spread of disease persisted, people would be dying on streets finding no space in health facilities. All their calculations and assessments have proven wrong for the time being.

A friend from Faisalabad told me that at least two facilities set up for the coronavirus patients have been closed as they are not receiving people hit by the COVID-19. Similar units have also been shut down in some other cities. The health system is no more under the strain as it was a few weeks back.

There are only two countries - Vietnam and Taiwan - that surpass Pakistan in laudably controlling the COVID-19. There has been not a single death in Vietnam as it clamped the strictest lockdown for a few weeks.

The federal government praises its performance compared to several nations, but considering the populations of many countries including India, Pakistan’s number of patients and deaths has been more than them. Pakistan’s COVID-19 positive scenario appears strange and unbelievable when the severity of continually spreading pandemic in several countries including the technologically advanced nations of the globe is taken into consideration. The coronavirus is irrepressible even in the United States. The US federal government and states are as confused as every administration in the world whether to lock down or reopen the cities to let them start their normal activities.

As far as the present Pakistani government is concerned, it was as befuddled as any other regime as it did enforce the lock down, opposing it aggressively at the same time in the early days of the disease. Even initially, some experts had suggested that targeted/smart lockdown should be introduced but the counsel was ignored. Later, sanity prevailed but it was too late. The decision to open entire Pakistan on the eve of the Eidul Fitr for shopping was disastrous because it tremendously spiked the pandemic.

The Punjab government has now taken the correct measure by locking down major cities and towns for a week on the occasion of Eidul Azha as it seems to have learnt a lesson.

Thus, Eid shopping has been disallowed. Not only has the tally of COVID-19 patients and death rate has significantly gone down, the recovery of those hit by the virus has also been extraordinary. Therefore, all indicators that the scourge is on the decline are positive and will hopefully remain so if the SOPs are implemented and followed strictly in the weeks to come.

Not only the health professionals but also the government admits without any hesitation that the disease has not vanished from Pakistan. They claim that it stands reined in for now but the prospects of its showing the tentacles remain if carelessness was shown.


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