Limited lockdown

It was pretty much understood that the National Coordination Committee (NCC), chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, would never endorse a complete lockdown even though doctors were screaming for it and a high level report, in Punjab at least, asked for exactly that for at least a month; that too beginning in the middle of May, just when the province decided to open up yet more instead. The PM has never been one for shutting down. And his point of view is understandable. Our brave doctors are the frontline warriors in this strange war, and they deserve our highest admiration and respect no doubt, but they still only present one side of the picture. And the government just does not have the luxury of seeing things in isolation.

The other side, which the prime minister finds himself forced to tilt in favour of, represent two concerns. One is the fate of the daily wagers and the like, of course, who would surely start starving if they are stopped from work all over again. And the other is the business section that forms the backbone of the economy. Everybody it represents, too, just cannot afford to sit home for another few weeks. Indeed, as the state bank warned just before the NCC huddle, the economy would suffer to no end and there might even be food shortages if the decision to lock down is taken. Granted, it makes sense in many ways to stop all activity for another fortnight to a month, but practically very few people can really afford to stay home and do nothing.

But all this does not mean we should ignore the potentially catastrophic outcome if the opening continues to bring concerning results. So far it has really not worked out. Numbers of fresh cases, as well as deaths, have gone up in almost all parts of the world. And the trend has been much worse at home. The scenario where the virus spreads far too quickly to handle must be avoided at all costs. The only way to do that, as mentioned repeatedly in this space, is for everybody to observe all standard operating procedures (SOPs) that the government has outlined. Even the prime ministers stressed this point when announcing NCC’s decision on Monday, and it is really up to people now to control the manner of the opening up. Hopefully everybody will display more responsibility this time around. So far it has really not worked out. Numbers of fresh cases, as well as deaths, have gone up in almost all parts of the world. And the trend has been much worse at home

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