Finally, the PTI government has decided to do what had been an anathema to it for long. The NCOC is going to impose a weeklong full lockdown In Punjab and KP which are ruled by the PTI as well as in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) from May 8 to May16 . The NCOC was forced to take the decision after other methods including personal appeals by the PM, CMs and health department officials failed to persuade most of the population to follow the Covid-19 protocol. The measures could not be fully enforced through fines on individuals and forcible closure of business premises violating the code.
The third Covid-19 wave emerging in the first week of March turned out to be more fast spreading and deadly than the two earlier ones leading to more than 5,000 new infections and over 100 fatalities every day for the past many weeks. Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and AJK are the worst affected. It has been decided to close most business activities and all parks and public entertainment facilities. Intercity and intracity transport too will be discouraged. Police, Rangers and army personnel will be deployed at the check posts to enforce the restrictions.
The main reason why PM Imran Khan was opposed to a full lockdown was his concern for the indigent with no money to store food and therefore likely to go hungry. It’s time to mobilise the much talked about but yet to be seen in action ‘million-strong’ Corona Relief Tiger Force (CRTF) announced last year by the PM with great fanfare for providing coronavirus-related relief and to help meet other social challenges.
The real challenge is to urgently inoculate all above 18 years. The vaccination drive started late because of the government’s failure to make timely purchase of the pandemic shots. What is more, the vaccination process has been slow. The preventive measures that are being adopted can only slow down the spread of Covid-19, at the loss of millions of man hours and damage to the economy. What can end the pandemic is universal vaccination leading to herd immunity.