Covid-19 helpline gets 98% calls for ration

Helpline received 22,201 calls since March 21; of these only 3,552 callers sought medical advice


Muhammad Shahzad May 06, 2020
PHOTO: Reuters

LAHORE: During the Covid-19 pandemic’s outbreak in the country, a significant portion of the society seems to be concerned about finding ways to get free ration rather than seeking help in preventive measures against the contagion.

This was revealed after analysis of phone calls made at Rescue Coronavirus Helpline 1190. According to the data, over 98 per cent calls received during the period at the helpline were regarding ration requests.

The data was sufficient to gauge the socioeconomic condition of people at large in Punjab.

It showed that since April 12 the trend of calls being made at the helpline had witnessed a sharp shift.

Since March 21, the helpline received 22,201 calls. Out of them, only 3,552 calls were about medical advice on coronavirus and 17,268 were regarding ration requests.

Among the calls since March 21, over 78 per cent were requests for ration. But if considered from April 12, over 98 per cent calls were for ration distribution.

The majority of the calls were from Lahore and Rawalpindi as the ration distribution activity by Rescue 1122 was launched there. The people calling were usually residents of areas nearby Rescue 1122 stations.

Meanwhile, it was evident that social distancing was being compromised and people were let free to roam around to do their errands.

There was fear that the contagion would spread at an alarming rate, but many people staying at home feared they might die of starvation.

In such a situation, the role of the government has increased. Ensuring public health, as well as preventing hunger, are the responsibilities of the government.

However, there was a considerable level of negligence in this regard. The government did not take sufficient measures to ensure that people get food without any difficulty. If the government had done so, this shift in calls for help would not have emerged.

In this pandemic and lockdown crisis, when the government is urging people to stay home and close their businesses, it should devote energy and resources to ensure provision of ration to them.

Encounters and robberies

Meanwhile, ever since the replacement of the capital city police officer, there has been an increase in the number of encounters by the investigations wing, especially CIA.

However, major incidents of robbery and those involving death or injury have also increased considerably.

On Saturday, at least two suspected criminals were killed in an encounter in Kahna. Model Town CIA police claimed they were killed due to firing by their accomplice.

The police said they were travelling with the suspects identified as Ashfaq and Tanveer when their accomplice Arsalan resorted to firing on them. As a result, the suspects in police custody suffered bullet injuries.

Earlier in the week, a suspect identified as Asif, who was in Ghaziabad CIA police custody for a murder investigation, was also killed in an encounter. He allegedly had fled from police custody after injuring four men, including two policemen. The suspect was traced within a few hours and police claimed to have killed him in an encounter. He too, according to the police, was killed in firing by his accomplices.

Since November, there have been several police encounters. In one incident, the picture of handcuffed suspect was released after he died in an encounter.

On the other hand, violent crimes have not decreased. During the week, a man was killed by suspected robbers outside an ATM in Faisal Town, another was killed while revisiting a robbery in Sabzazar and two were injured in Lower Mall area.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2020.

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