Covid curbs: prefer persuasion

Govt should use persuasion more than coercion to motivate people to get Covid jabs

July 25, 2021

The Sindh government has taken a wise decision to increase the range of restrictions from Monday in view of the rising cases of coronavirus infections in the province. Karachi, Sindh’s capital, is the worst affected in the whole province where the positivity ratio stood at 21.54% on Thursday and the infestation was increasing alarmingly. Some of the decisions made at a meeting of the provincial coronavirus task force on Friday seem to have been taken in haste without keeping all aspects of the situation into consideration. For instance, the provincial government plans to block sims of mobile phones in use by all those who fail to get vaccinated within a week. The Sindh government will seek the opinion of the PTA prior to taking this course of coercive action.

The vaccination process in the province is satisfactory. According to the government’s own account, the province has received 6,720,997 doses of coronavirus vaccines and 5,312,921 have been used. This leaves 148,076 doses unutilised. By no yardstick can this be described as poor utilisation of the vaccines. The available doses are still far short to vaccinate the entire adult population of Sindh. Estimates put adults comprising half of the total 47.89 million population of Sindh.

The government should use persuasion more than coercion to motivate people to get Covid-19 jabs, and make the required doses of vaccine available. The intention of blocking mobile phone sims and such threats are coercive measures that smack of an authoritarian streak. Coercion can only be used after all means of persuasion fail. Use of measures to force people to take the jab does not stand scrutiny considering the unsatisfactory availability of vaccines. First, the government should set its own house in order. Expecting shopkeepers to open shops at six in the morning is unrealistic. Going ahead with exams is another perplexing decision. Dishonest cops might try to earn money under the garb of enforcing coronavirus curbs. The authorities should keep an eye on such elements.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2021.

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