The fears experts were expressing have come true. Cases of the deadly coronavirus have emerged in informal settlements in Karachi. In these areas, people live in small houses with large families so they are more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus disease. After 7 members from one such family in the city’s district central tested positive for Covid-19 a few days ago, the Sindh government took notice of the dangerous spread of the virus. The government has promptly either sealed some localities or has tightened the lockdown to prevent further spread of the virus. These steps have been taken to ensure social distancing. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has asked the health department to launch a mobile testing facility to screen residents of these low-income localities. He has held out a promise that the government will provide extra testing kits to various labs for the purpose. He announced that an order had been placed to procure another 190,000 kits.
Considering the lack of awareness about the efficacy of social distancing the provincial government has had to take the tough measure of tightening the lockdown. In many areas, people are not taking the highly contagious nature of coronavirus seriously. They are being seen converging on shops in large numbers close to one another. People are still carrying children in their laps and two and more people travelling on one motorcycle. Our fatalist inclination is also playing a role in taking things easy. There is also a false notion that only the elderly and the infirm are infected by the coronavirus. Figures from labs and hospitals show the virus can infect people of all age groups. The CM has also asked volunteers to deliver food rations at the door steps of the needy without them disclosing their identity in order to protect their dignity. In the past during famines, governments undertook public work projects where the needy worked in the dark at night.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2020.
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