KARACHI: Experts and professionals from different parts of Pakistan and other countries have underlined the need for strictly following the lockdown orders to save many human lives from corornavirus (COVID-19) and urged the government to arrange adequate medical and testing facilities in all the areas and provide personal protection equipment (PPE) to doctors and paramedical staff.
Speaking at a video conference via Zoom, organized by Sindh Social Scientists Forum (SSSF), a social think tank, the speakers from Karachi, Islamabad, Noshehrofoz, Sakrand, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, China, Australia and Iraq said that many countries have succeeded in controlling the COVID-19 by strictly implementing lockdowns.
In their recommendations the speakers emphasized the need for creating awareness among general public for observing social distancing, avoid going outside unnecessarily and frequently wash hands. They urged the government to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to all healthcare staff in all hospitals and dispensaries.
Dr. Riaz Shaikh, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) said the situation is becoming dangerous as he feared that relaxation in lockdown may further worsen the situation in Pakistan in the coming days. According to him there is a lack of seriousness and political will on part of the government. The government does not have a capacity to collect data of the virus affectees. Even the Prime Minister has admitted that no data is available for providing economic relief to poor and daily wage workers.
Dr Choudhry Inayatullah, Ex-ARR UNDP Pakistan and CEO AWARDS, NGO and currently working with the Ministry of Food Security at Government of Pakistan from Islamabad said that still testing rate is lower in Pakistan so the available data is not credible. He said changes in temperature may affect the spread of COVID disease and when temperature will decrease the number of patients will increase. He said airconditioning environment is also harmful for the patients.
Zahid Jalbani, who works for an international NGO in Iraq told that strict lockdown has resulted in control over spread of COVID-19. Even Iraqi government had imposed curfew. In Kurdistan region now zero patient are reported for the last three days. According to him people in Iraq, who are fond of eating outside on daily basis have now restricted themselves at homes and they are following the government orders, which has resulted in control over the situation.
Dodo Khan Qamrani who works in Pakistan Embassy at Beijing China informed the participants that due to timely and strict lockdown and other preventive measures by the Chinese government in Wuhan city, the spread of disease was controlled in other parts of the country. He said now those who come to China have to undergo strict quarantine rules. All people arrive at the airports are tested and kept on mandatory quarantine.
Jawad Haider Mahesar from Hungary said that lockdown has been eased in Austria and Hungary as these countries had taken strict measures. They had tested most of their citizens. Yousuf Choudhry from Brisbane, Australia said that over 6000 cases have been reported from Australia. The government was very strict in implementing social distancing. It was imposing massive fines on stop on those who were found violating the government orders. All six states in Australia have closed borders with each states.
Dr. Nusrat Shah from the Civil Hospital Karachi informed the meeting that due to lockdown many patients other than COVID-19 are unable to reach the hospitals. Many deaths of such patients also occur due to non-availability of healthcare facilities. Even though OPDs have been started in the government hospitals, the number of patients is still lower as transport is also closed down in the city.
Ms Raheema Panhwar, Provincial Coordinator Water Aid Sindh said role of Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) should be more strengthened. Timely disbursement of PPEs should be ensured.
Aijaz Ali Khuwaja, General Secretary Sindh Social Scientists Forum (SSSF) said that SSSF is a social think tank working on different socio-economic and development issues of Sindh & Pakistan. This conference on COVID19 is also part of SSSF’s strategy of mobilization of communities, government & civil society. Mr. Ishak Soomro, Executive Director Change Organization, Dr Allah Nawaz Samoo, CEO Thardeep rural Development Program (TRDP), Dr. Nisar Solangi and Iftikhar Amed Solangi from Saudi Arabia, Dr Nafisa Shah, MNA, social activist Ms. Naghman Shaikh, Zafar Dahraj, Abdullah Solangi, Abid Lashari, Majid Maqsood, Shujauddin Qureshi and Amanullah Shaikh also joined the video conference.