December 2019 was probably the last time the global community last experienced peace. Since then, the world has experienced nothing but turmoil, courtesy the coronavirus. The 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing as these lines are being written. According to careful estimates, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, worldwide, has surpassed the horrific number of 400,000. More than 190 countries have been affected so far from the novel coronavirus.
In the list of countries with most reported cases, Pakistan stands at 29th position, according to online realistic statistic dashboards. Every country in the world faced a unique challenge when COVID-19 arrived at their shores. Pakistan was no different. The gravity of the situation demands a discussion to evaluate the situation of Coronavirus in Pakistan so far.
Coronavirus in Pakistan
Nearly 4 weeks have passed since the country reported its first case of COVID-19. As of March 25th, 2020, a total of 950 cases have reported in the country so far, with seven deaths included. The cases of local transmission are less in number, as compared to the virus-positive patients who have a travel history.
The majority of these travelers have a travel history of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other miscellaneous countries. The number of local transmissions increased as these travelers made voyages to their native towns. But the government was quick to the task. Quarantine centers were established at Taftan, Sukkur, Multan, Faisalabad and other major cities where these travelers were quarantined. Some of them are still under suspicion as we read these lines.
Coronavirus and Healthcare system in Pakistan
Now that the coronavirus has hit the country with its full might, the healthcare system of Pakistan is under review constantly. The unprecedented state of affairs has made the executives at even senior-most levels, quite anxious. As a country which ranks 105 on the Global Health Security Index, Pakistan’s ability to deal with the deadly pandemic is seriously in question.
But ever since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Pakistan, governments on both provincial and federal levels have been proactively trying to tackle the coronavirus in Pakistan. More diagnostic kits and protective gear have been imported as the number of patients surged. China’s support in this regard is laudable. Their donation of more than $4M is likely to come handy, in days to come.
Why more ventilators are needed to fight Coronavirus in Pakistan?
Ventilators are an essential tool in helping COVID-19 patients who have developed viral pneumonia. These patients require a higher level of oxygen and hence, ventilators serve as a crucial bridge in recovering these patients. However, the situation of ventilators in Pakistan is quite abysmal. According to reports, Pakistan will face a deficiency of ventilators if coronavirus patients increase in number.
A breakdown on the provincial level tells us that KP province has 150, Baluchistan has 49, and Punjab has 1300. Sindh has around 500 of these medical devices, including both the public and private sectors. These are not going to be enough to fight coronavirus in Pakistan. More ventilators on an immediate basis need to be imported from other countries.
Society’s response to Coronavirus in Pakistan
Largely, Pakistanis were well aware of the devastation caused by the coronavirus in China. Hence, the practices of hand washing and sanitizing increased significantly with the first patient of coronavirus in Pakistan. The state is playing its part well in managing this epidemic. Provincial lockdowns have been announced, social distancing is preached via state and private media channels.
Sadly, due to illiteracy, folks in the rural areas remain ignorant of coronavirus’s deadly nature. More efforts need to be made on the provincial level to address this matter. In times like these, rumor mills become most active. Conspiracy theories are churned out on social media quite regularly. From terming it as the Chinese virus to blaming administration, there is no stopping that. Religious clerics seem to be divided on the opinion of holding congregational Friday prayers in the mosque. Remember that only by practicing social distancing, one can hope to defeat this deadly epidemic.
According to a recent study, the estimated projections suggest that Pakistan can have more than 20 million COVID-19 patients by June 2020. This is of course if the government fails to come up with a plan for aggressive containment of this deadly virus. Implementing complete lockdowns can be one way of doing so.
Coronavirus in Pakistan is a reality. The prospect of fighting an invisible enemy is quite intimidating. But one has to remember that the government can’t defeat the virus alone. The entire nation’s response is crucial to eliminate this deadly virus from the country forever. After all, if China can do it, why can’t Pakistan?