- Reliability of figures must be ensured
While the world saw the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reach 10 million, Pakistan saw them reach 200,000 on Saturday, while the death toll rose to 4099. The detection of almost 4000 new cases, and the 35 new deaths should act as a check on the self-congratulation that was caused by the recent decline in the number of new cases, which the government opined was because of the ‘smart lockdown’ policy of the government, whereby it imposes a strict curfew-like lockdown only on those parts of a city where there are an increasing number of cases.
At the same time, there has been a reduction in the number of tests conducted, either because of a lack of ability to manage the processing of a larger number of samples, or because of a misguided notion that fewer tests will mean fewer positive cases. Thus, the only indication of as hotspot would be an increase in the number of covid-19 deaths. However, if the deceased had not been tested in life, then the authorities can claim that the death was not part of the pandemic. Such a policy is not only cowardly, but shortsighted, for it does not prevent people from dying. Even if there is some sort of social stigma attached to covid-19, the deaths because of it cannot stay concealed, even if they are somehow kept off the books.
The country’s ability to deal with the epidemic, to absorb the shock it is administering, is being compromised, rather than enhanced, by the government’s attempt to avoid testing, which is an essential part of managing the pandemic, whether it through ‘smart lockdowns’ or contact tracing.. The government would actually achieve better results if it stopped trying to be clever and find ways of escaping its responsibilities, and worked on making its proposed solutions work. This includes ensuring accuracy of figures, without which no method can work, because nothing will work unless based on correct information. It is more important to keep its citizens alive than provide the WHO and other international bodies doctored figures. The government must also remember that the sort of contortions it is carrying is the reason why government is not trusted by the people, and it should tell the truth now, lest later even if its truths are treated as falsehoods.