It is now high time that we start taking this pandemic seriously. The course this virus is taking in Pakistan is very similar to how it spread in other countries. I don’t have the heart to discuss the worst case scenario with which we are faced currently.

It is still not too late for us but immediate action needs to be taken.

Cancel all social events, meetings, weddings, etc. Do not leave the house unless absolutely necessary. Do not go to hospitals unless it is a matter of utmost urgency. Maintain safe distance from others, including family members – enforcing these measures is not an act of paranoia, they are needed due to the nature of the disease we are facing.

Don’t worry if you cant find hand sanitisers in the market, they are not needed. All that is needed is for us to stay home, wash our hands and face with soap regularly. Most of the sanitisers available currently are not effective, as 90% alcohol based sanitisers are needed to deal with COVID-19.S

What you need to know about masks

Masks will not necessarily prevent healthy individuals from contracting the disease. This does not however mean that individuals showing symptoms should be approached without using the proper precautionary measures.  The most important precaution is social distancing. Do not share food, do not use the same plates, utensils or glasses.

Infectious diseases such COVID-19 have a tendency to spread exponentially, which means that we won’t just be seeing 2 or 3 new cases everyday; from now on but the figures will start multiplying. There are already hundreds – if not thousands – of undetected cases in our cities, mostly due to lack of awareness and diagnostic facilities.

We as a nation in general and our healthcare system in particular are not ready to face this enormous challenge.

We do not have the facilities or the expertise required to deal with this outbreak. Our already overburdened hospitals will soon be overrun with patients needing critical care which we will not be able to provide. Our doctors and other healthcare professionals do not even have the protective gear to stop themselves from getting infected.

As of right now there is no approved treatment or vaccine for this virus available anywhere in the world. Developed countries like Italy and Spain have been devastated by this disease in a matter of weeks and the United Kingdom and United States are expected to suffer the same fate in a matter of days.

The virus does not differentiate between poor or rich, young or old, muslim or non muslim. It is a new virus, no one has immunity against it and so everyone is vulnerable to getting infected.

It is high time we stop arguing that it is a “saazish” or that we have very strong immune systems because of what we eat, etc, or that it doesn’t harm the young. The government will soon be enforcing stronger measures to control the spread of the virus but until we change our way of thinking, nothing the government tries can help us.

This is bigger than any individual or organisation. There is a reason that everything from international travel to sporting events have been cancelled worldwide. We need to control the spread of this virus.

Cancel everything, stay home.

About the author: Dr. Moiz Arshad Chohan is a Post Graduate trainee at the Ghurki Trust Teaching Hospital in Lahore.