Not getting ready in time

What false pride is stopping a full lockdown?

As the number of coronavirus infections keeps on piling up, and as the number of deaths keeps growing, it would seem obvious that the government’s hopes that the discovery of a vaccine would stop the coronavirus from spreading has failed. It has not helped that the rollout of the vaccine has been less than impressive, and the inevitable is happening after the government frittered away the time it had been given by the dying down of the first wave in self-congratulatory rhetoric about how the world was following its example, instead of building the capacity of the healthcare system by inducting more equipment, and building up the capacity of industry to produce and supply oxygen. The inevitable has happened, and the healthcare system has actually collapsed. If the government continues the nonchalance it has shown so far, what is happening in India will happen here as well: patients lying on floors in corridors gasping for oxygen, the sick dying in the streets after being refused admission to hospitals, and the dead lying unburied because the cemeteries are stuffed beyond capacity.

The government has refused to do what is apparent to the layman, and impose a strict lockdown. It has insisted that such a lockdown would bring about economic ruin for daily wagers, ignoring two salient facts. First, the previous lockdown did not cause the mass starvation so confidently predicted. Second, the policy of smart lockdowns has clearly not worked. Indeed, it has collapsed. So many areas now qualify for one, that there might as well be a general lockdown.

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The government should realize that if divine intervention saves lives, failure to take advantage of the consequent reprieve is punished as severely. The only thing preventing a strict lockdown being imposed is a false pride, and a failure to realize that economic disaster is very painful, but even more painful is death. Sticking to economics, if people (who are, after all, economic actors) are dying in large numbers, there will be no economy left to protect.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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