Published on June 11, 2020
By Asra Haque
The World Health Organization (WHO) has written to both the Sindh and Punjab governments, urging Punjab, in particular, to impose an “intermittent” lockdown to control the spread of Coronavirus as Pakistan’s confirmed cases surge past a worrying 100,000.
Pakistan is now 15th among the most infected country in the world and is expected to fall lower on this index as the rate at which new cases are emerging quickens.
According to official data, Punjab was reporting an average of 1,000 cases daily but after lifting restrictions as part of the federal government’s “smart lockdown”, the average has more than doubled.
According to the WHO’s recommendations, countries can safely lift their lockdown provided they fulfill six prerequisites – none of which Pakistan satisfies. These prerequisites include the ensuring of local transmissions being limited and under control; the country’s healthcare sector being sufficiently equipped to bear the burden of receiving, treating and tracing virus patients; having effective SOPs in place to safeguard high-risk zones from outbreaks; that effective SOPs are in place and being enforced in schools, offices and other essential places; that imported cases can be managed efficiently, and that the public is fully aware of and educated on the threat the virus poses and are equipped to live comfortably in a pandemic-hit world.
Meanwhile, WHO also rescinded a June 8th statement issued by Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, a leading epidemiologist based in the Health Emergencies Program of the organization, that it is rare for an asymptomatic patient to spread the virus to others.