Ethical dilemma of COVID-19 quarantine


Rida Fatima

THE world is facing a pandemic and the fear looms all over. The interconnected world is now socially isolating and financially crashing. The spread of COVID-19 had a spillover from China and is grabbing all the states to its fold. Moreover, it has highlighted the very shortcomings of our preparedness for natural calamities like pandemics. From harsh quarantine in Italy to the brutal treatment of the infected in North Korea and the mass infections in Iran, the responses to counter the pandemic are far more faulty than what they appear. The level of surveillance of the infected in China highlights major breaches in one’s private sphere. However, such policies cannot work in democracies around the world. The ethical dilemmas of human rights and dignity can hinder the government’s strategy to combat the virus. Thus, the well-acclaimed political scientists P.Edward and Eric Raymond aptly question how the spread of COVID-19 can be ethically curbed.
Such an all-encompassing strategy would require a blend of transparency, compassion and non-discrimination among the people within the states and in the inter-state relationships. We are all in it together, the virus does not distinguish between the developed and underdeveloped, rich and poor, privileged and underprivileged. Thus, there is a need that states around the world chalk out a well cohesive and integrated policy at national, regional and global level which too transcends the discriminations. And in all those steps, the people should be well informed and kept abreast of the developments so that they can engage in the process and not feel as if they are abandoned by their governments and states which can turn them rebellious causing mass anxiety.
Akin to that, there are many regional organizations which could have played a crucial role to curb the flow of the virus yet they appear dysfunctional in its implementation. The major reason behind that lies in how isolated these organizations stand from the people. The widening gap obstructs the implementation of these eloquently chalked out plans in Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), European Union (EU) and the list stands endless. As a result, the developing states like Pakistan with high pressures of structural readjustments from IMF looms into the polythink syndrome on how to control the virus without damaging the economic fabric by these sudden quarantines.
Henceforth, the debates on COVID-19 stretches in the domain of ‘Positional Warfare’ where on one side, the environmentalist had enduring stance over the natural devastations which are non-discriminatory requiring an equitable strategy on global level and on the other hand, the developed few states for whom geoeconomics and terrorism are the sole focal points. The ethical divisions on the basis of the developed and underdeveloped world and their weltanshuaang has been unable to curb the pandemic of today. It is a high time that the world forgoes this positional warfare without overshadowing the human rights and virtue of equity and work together to combat the COVID-19 and learn from their lack of preparedness and distorted focus.
—The writer is a freelance contributor based in Islamabad.

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