PHOTO: Reuters

Amid panic buying, people fear price hike

Confusion prevails over definition of lockdown

​ Our Correspondent March 24, 2020
LAHORE: While the provincial government has been facing challenges in curbing the transmission of coronavirus, it now has to ensure a lockdown in the province from Tuesday while maintaining a check on price hike and strict vigil on street games.

As the government announced a lockdown from March 24, people in different localities rushed towards shops on Monday to purchase food items to avoid a shortage during the next two weeks.

Some people also expressed concern over children gathering in streets to play. They said doctors and the government had warned that old people are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and most of them have been staying home, but children are seen playing cricket and other games in the streets. In many cases, the children are not paying heed to their parents' advice to stay home, they said.

Another concern expressed by people on eve of the prolonged lockdown is a fear of an increase in prices of essential items.

“How will people afford routine items if the prices skyrocket while they are not allowed to go to work during the lockdown?” wondered a citizen, Mohammad Farman.

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The people in the city also appear confused over the definition of the term lockdown. Some claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan had made it clear in an address to the nation recently that complete lockdown means a curfew wherein police and armed forces are deployed to restrain people from going outside their homes. Others were of the view that it was not a curfew and some shops selling items of daily use would not be closed.

Mohammad Iqbal, a consumer at a shop, said, “It will be a complete curfew wherein the people will not be allowed to go outside the houses and that is why I came to purchase some food items, including flour, onions and potatoes for 14 days.”

Sajida Bibi said the government should not only ensure complete lockdown in the province but also control the prices of routine items. She said that the authorities should also take steps to discourage street games during the period of restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mohammad Ali, a cricket player, said he did not see coronavirus affecting him if he played while wearing a mask. However, he said he would not play if there were clear instructions in this regard.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2020.


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