August 11, 2020
By Ahmad Saeed
Doctors, public health experts, and epidemiologists have voiced their concerns over what they say may be a premature lifting of restrictions by the government. Experts believe that a premature return to normalization might give off the signal that the pandemic is over.
According to health specialists, the threat of a second wave persists, and if people do not take this disease seriously and ignore the SOPs, then a second wave is imminent.
Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, General Secretary of the All Pakistan Medical Association, a representative union of Pakistan’s Doctors, says that the lockdown should not be lifted before the Muharram processions.
“We believe that the government should wait a few days and make a decision after analyzing the situation of the pandemic following the Edi-ul-Azha procession, in short, the decision was made in haste”, says Dr Qaiser Sajjad.
Dr. Qaiser believes that the decision did not take into account the opinions of the medical community.“Even during a pandemic, the government did not bother consulting the medical community or any other relevant stakeholder for that matter”, he laments.
The President of the Pakistan Infection Control Society, Rafeeq Khanaani, reiterates the sentiments of Dr. Qaiser, calling the lifting of restrictions “premature”. Khanaani says that the government should have implemented a strict contact-tracing regime to establish a genuine assessment of the pandemic before taking this step.
“Even though there has been a marked reduction in the number of cases, by an astounding 80%, but even these figures do not guarantee that the pandemic will not re-appear, a proper strategy must have been implemented in this regard”, says Dr, Rafeeq.
Dr. Khanani claims that the rapid fall in cases can be attributed to a drastic rise in temperature not to the so-called smart lockdown strategy of the government.
Dr. Samia Altaf, an expert in Public Health Policy, has called the current government policy scattered. According to her, the government has not even seriously collected enough data to base its policies on. “The government does not seem to have a coherent plan to deal with this pandemic. Their policy initiatives are whimsical and pragmatic”, she explains.
Experts are of the view that the sudden lifting of restrictions will send a message to the population that the pandemic is over. If people stop taking the SOPs seriously, the pandemic might return with a vengeance.