As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise, the Pakistan government is considering another strict lockdown to contain the virus. As of May 29, the country has recorded 64,028 cases and 1,317 deaths. While the government is mulling another lockdown, nearly a thousand children have contracted the coronavirus in Sindh province alone.
A total lockdown unlikely to help Pakistan
Imposing a strict lockdown is a complicated affair. Shutting down economic activity across the country will further hurt Pakistan’s ailing economy. It would mean millions of daily wage earners have to live without work and pay for longer periods. And if the lockdown is not imposed, the economic activity will start getting back to normal. But the coronavirus will spread faster than ever before.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said repeatedly that a total lockdown is not an economically viable option. Earlier this month, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar told media that the country would implement a “smart lockdown” to identify coronavirus hotspots and trace coronavirus cases. It will enable the country to gradually open up the economy.
However, the situation is worsening rapidly. A large number of coronavirus cases in rural areas and small towns go unreported. Pakistan’s healthcare infrastructure is not strong enough to handle the skyrocketing number of coronavirus patients. Many hospitals are already turning patients away. According to the government figures, there are only about 4,000 ventilators in the country.
Religious institutions, small business owners, and daily wage earners are opposing a strict lockdown in Pakistan. Many religious institutions and small business groups are lobbying to keep the markets, economy, and mosques open. The Eid holidays and the government’s decision to allow millions of migrant workers to travel back to their villages would only exacerbate the situation.
Children contracting coronavirus despite schools being closed
A total lockdown is not going to help Pakistan much considering the virus has already spread to almost every part of the country. According to reports, around 900 children under the age of 10 in Sindh province have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Surprisingly, most of the children were asymptomatic.
Little children contracting the coronavirus in large numbers is a worrying sign. It’s happening even though the schools have been closed since February 26. The children belong to poor families living in unhygienic conditions. It’s difficult for poor people to practice hygiene and maintain social distancing. It’s possible that the children got the virus from elders in their families, who go out for groceries or work.