Corona Virus pandemic: Prevention is better than cure

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SAJJAD SHAUKAT
CORONA Virus pandemic also named as COVID-19 which is, rapidly, spreading across the world has killed more than 30,105 persons and infected over 638,146 individuals despite lockdowns in many countries, especiallyWestern states. Besides other restrictions, taking precautionary measures, airport screening of passengers is being done not only at airports, but also at other transport places like railway stations, bus stations etc. To further prevent the CoronaVirus spread,many countries’authorities have stepped out screening of passengers arriving from CoronaVirus sensitive countries.And some countries have closed borders with the neighbouring countries. Different countries have adopted testing of the persons, suspected by the indications of the Corona Virus. As regards Pakistan, up to March 30, this year, the number of Corona Virus-deaths in the country has reached the figure of 15, whereas the number of persons, affected by the virus is 1571. Pakistan has also taken measures, especially of China which has succeeded in controlling COVID-19. In this respect, Government of Pakistan has also closed down educational institutions as well as marriage halls etc. A ban was also imposed on sit-ins and processions, rallies at public places, sports gathering and cinemas. As most of the Pakistanis were not taking preventive measures to save their lives from the Corona Virus pandemic in accordance with the instructions of the medical experts and the health department, the central and provincial governments were compelled to impose restrictions of various kinds – complete or partial lockdown to stop further outbreak of this fatal disease. But, most of the citizens are violating the restrictions. Hence, the number of Corona Virus cases is increasing day by day in the country. Nevertheless, to stop the further spread of Corona Virus pandemic, people need to act upon the famous maximum-“prevention is better than cure.” For the purpose they need self-quarantine or isolation. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), “Self-isolating is for people who have already been infected with the virus. Self-quarantining is for those who may be ill and need to keep themselves separate from others on the chance they become sick over the incubation period.” In this connection, addressing the nation on 22 March 2020, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan once again urged the nation to keep calm and not to be panicked as the country battles the Corona Virus outbreak. He said, “Pakistan cannot afford to impose a total lockdown. 25% of the people in the country live below the poverty line…if the situation in the country had escalated…he would have thought about imposing a lockdown…the virus could be curbed if people stopped attending gatherings and weddings and started staying at home to ensure minimum spread of the virus…Like China, Pakistan can come out of this pandemic if the public is disciplined and practised self-isolation.”[And self-quarantine]. Earlier, addressingthe nation, PM Imran Khan said: “We, as a nation, needto winthis war against Corona Virus” and asked the people “to adopt precautionary measures to overcome the highly contagious disease…everyone must avoid gatherings of more than 4 people. Handshaking must also be avoided…those arriving from abroadto goin a 14-day self-quarantine…The virusis dangerous for old people sinceit attacked their already-weakenedimmune system…Our economic situationis very fragile…If we close downthe country, what will happen to the poor? People will die of hunger…the country’s Ulem said that it was their responsibility to play a positive role in the crisis.” It is notable that the government has announced an economic package for daily wagers in order to help them in this dire situation. Pakistanis are huge charity giving people andjustlikethe government, privilegedcitizens shouldalsocontributein providing financial supporttolabourers/ daily wagers. And, media should also play positive role and should advise the people to cooperate with authorities, and to take preventive measures to protect themselves from this fatal disease. Meanwhile, it is excellent decision that in a joint statement on 26 March 2020, World Bank and IMF urged official bilateral creditors to provide immediate debt relief to the world’s poorest countries due to the Corona Virus outbreak. It is mentionable that addressing a press conference on 23 March 2020, DG, ISPR, Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar said, “Corona Virus is a danger…but the Pakistan Army is fully aware of its duty and would counter the pandemic with the nation’s help…wished to apprise the country’s citizens of the military’s efforts in the war against COVID-19…The borders had been closed as a preventive measure but the actual border is between the man and the Corona Virus…will only be possible through self-discipline and cooperation…Pakistan was facing a serious challenge and that only with the people’s belief in the state could this problem be resolved…in a special corps commanders conference to deal with Corona Virus, Pakistan Army’s aid to civil institutions and its plan of action was reviewed.” Maj-Gen Iftikhar also urged people to follow the guidelinesissued by health authorities andthe government. Notably,theWorld Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, urged the people on 13 March 2020 to follow the precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19. He advised the people “to avoid contracting the viral disease…should avoid visiting public gatherings, maintain hand hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water, following coughing and sneezing etiquettes, and remaining indoors in case of flu-like symptoms…very important that people remain indoors for some days if they have flu-like symptoms.” Nonetheless, Corona Virus pandemic requires that people must act upon the precautionary measures, taking note of the maximum-“prevention is better than cure.” —The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.