MULTAN: Asad Umar’s assurances about the low fatality rate of the coronavirus became void when the national numbers started telling us another story. He was recently seen praising the Prime Minister’s sagacious judgment about the futility of the lockdown while on the other hand the messages that came from other high officials about the lockdown were nothing short of cryptic. Asad, a federal minister and the NCOC chair, emphasised the importance of easing the lockdown during his speech in the National Assembly, which seems to be the need of the hour as hundreds of thousands of daily wagers and industrial workers remain vulnerable in the wake of this unprecedented crisis. With the same token, it is also absolutely essential to increase the country’s testing capacity since the number of cases are steadily picking up pace.
Last month, Dr Zafar Mirza, the Prime minister’s special assistant on health, announced that Pakistan would be enhancing its testing capacity to 20,000 by the end of April but contrary to this optimistic assurance the testing capacity of the country at the moment stands at 16,000 tests per day. By far, the authorities have only managed to test round 300,000 people in the country. These numbers, coupled with the complete disregard for social distancing protocols, paint a bleak picture of the overall situation.
The government must be careful and not disregard people’s health as an economy without healthy citizens is worthless. The most crucial thing to do at the moment is to ramp up testing capacities nation-wide so that the lives and simultaneously the livelihoods of the people can be safeguarded.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2020.