- Rising graph of coronavirus deaths
There is a need to preserve people from dying of hunger. There is an equal need to protect them from death caused by coronavirus.
One can appreciate the government’s concern for the livelihood of the daily wagers and the plans to provide them emergency relief. In order not to be seen to be politicking, the PM’s stimulus package has to be transparent with details about the criterion to determine the recipients and about how funds are to be made available to them. One also welcomes the permission for inter-city and inter-province movement of vehicles carrying goods to avoid shortages of food and medicines. It is however equally important that the vehicles are properly checked to stop the transport of contraband.
The government however continues to ignore its responsibilities to contain the fast spread of coronavirus. A responsible international figure like WHO chief Tedros Adhanom and Pakistani scientist Dr Attaur Rehman, currently Chairman of Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Science and Technology, agree that the most crucial measure to deal with the virus is to ramp-up testing of suspected patients. Dr Rehman maintains that the real number of patients in Pakistan is much higher than indicated by official figures and that Instead of testing only 2,000 to 3,000 persons in a day, the government needs to carry out testing for 30,000 to 40,000 patients on a daily basis. If we don’t take strict action now, he warns, things can get out of hand. The two major opposition parties too have called upon the federal government to increase the number of free-of-cost coronavirus testing facilities under a comprehensive strategy to determine the extent of the malaise across the country.
The idea of providing relief to construction industry which requires large scale mobilisation of manpower is however premature and fanciful at a time of lockdowns. Instead of running after mirages the government should formulate realistic policies. It is not a sound policy to try to restrain one killer while letting the other take toll of lives.