As the lockdown eases for several industries in Pakistan but still has been extended by 2 weeks for the common man, we can’t wonder but ask the question, is the lockdown doing any good?

Because the case our Prime Minister makes is that it’s hurting the wage earning population. However, Sindh government alleges that a tight lockdown is the best action Pakistan can take if it wants to curb the spread. So, which side is right and which is wrong? Or is their a right or wrong side even? The only way to gauge answers for these pressing questions is to see if the 3 weeks lockdown Pakistan observed did any good or not?

As of April 16 and at the time of writing this article, Pakistan has recorded 6,506 cases, of which 124 people have died. This number is much below state predictions for the country of over 207 million, said Dr Zafar Mirza. The country was forecasted to have 18,000 cases and 216 deaths till now. Fortunately, the total tally is significantly less than this number.

Is the state winning the fight against the virus?

As Pakistan scales back restrictions and eases its three-week lockdown, people are asking if the country has “bent the curve” enough to head back to partial normalcy. But before we come to an answer for that, what is the curve really?

International health experts have described the curve of a pandemic as that like a roller coaster. In the beginning the cases are low. Then they begin to rise, reaching a peak before falling down again to nearly none. The faster the curve goes downhill depends on the interventions taken by a state, which in Pakistan’s case includes a nationwide lockdown and restrictions on movement.

Geo News

Pakistan’s graph of confirmed cases looks something like this right now:

Photo: Geo News

What does this graph entails?

The number of people testing positive daily is on the upward trajectory. However, last week, Dr Mirza also told reporters that Pakistan, as per his ministry’s calculations, has yet to reach the peak of the pandemic, which could strike somewhere by the end of April.

Does this mean Pakistan is, as they say, “bending the curve?”

For the curve to bend there should be no sudden spike in cases. Yesterday, the country reported its second highest tally (520) of new cases to date, from March 20, as per data available on the ministry of national health service’s website.

Not all is bleak

Another way of gauging the trajectory of the country is determining the number of days its takes to double cases. Here Pakistan is at an advantage compared to others facing the outbreak. Pakistan’s confirmed cases are doubling roughly every two weeks. While in the US, the cases doubled every three days.

However, we can’t get relaxed after hearing that our tally is less than forecasted or we’re faring well than United States because Pakistan is not testing enough.

World Health Organization has mentioned time and again that India, Pakistan and Indonesia are blinded folded by low testing rates in the respective countries. Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO Director-General, told the World Economic Forum that even if the curve is bending you want to be sure that it’s for the right reasons and not just because testing dropped off or surveillance. He added that “requires finding every single case, testing every suspect case, confirming them, isolating the suspect cases, quarantining the others.”

How well is Pakistan faring on all these criteria’s? Sadly, not well.

Pakistan’s daily testing stands a little over 3,000 on most days. But this too is expected to be scaled up to 25,000 by the end of the month. And until that happens it will remain unclear if Pakistan’s is winning the fight or not.

So, is lockdown the answer?

Yes it is. It’s not the only answer for Pakistan but for the world until and unless a vaccine is made. Which many leading researchers say can be made in 6 months and let’s hope that stays the case.

Also Read: 20 million coronavirus cases to emerge in Pakistan by June: Report


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