China Model sole key for Pakistan to curb COVID-19
by Yasir Habib Khan
To combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Pakistan must take the China Model. Islamabad administration spearheaded by PM Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi urged the people to follow safety SOPs including wearing masks, sanitizing hands, disinfecting homes and venturing out only one among family when direly needed.
Government also has tightened the regulations on social distance, remote working, screening, testing by announcing financial and food facilitations to the poor and incentives to industry in true letter and spirit.
As China did, PTI government has taken steps to minimize the chances of togetherness publically and privately. Almost all educational institutions, shopping plazas, tourist places, markets, eateries except takeaways, marriage halls and resorts have been closed. Political activities, public meetings have been halted. Religious functions and congregations are requested to be prevented.
China is credited by World Health Organization (WHO) for effective response and speedy measures to reduce the impacts of COVID-19, which allows Pakistan and entire world to brace for coronavirus havocs.
The WHO report found the following measures taken by China proved to be the most effective against the virus.
In the face of virus, China dared put at least 50 million people under mandatory quarantine in Hubei Province to save the rest of world. China built hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 treatment in Wuhan, sent healthcare workers from around the country to Hubei to care for the sick and traced confirmed cases. China also closed schools, businesses and theaters, and cancelled all kinds of gathering including sporting events.
Since Wuhan, epicenter of the virus outbreak, was put on lockdown on January 23, government officials across the province gradually ramped up efforts to keep residents inside their houses. Apartment compounds allowed people to go in and out through one gate, each household was permitted to only send one person out once every three days to purchase groceries. Everyone must take temperature check at the entrance.
The Hubei government ordered community officials to enforce "the strictest, around-the-clock, closed-end management" of all residential complexes, requiring purchasers of cold medicine to disclose their temperature, address and identification number at the pharmacy. To further cut down on people's needs to leave their houses, many community officials bought and delivered groceries and medication for the residents in their jurisdiction.
Many cities carried out fine management in which large neighborhoods were changed into smaller grid like units responsible for enforcing regulations. Community workers known as grid workers, were supposed to screen each person's temperature as they entered the complex. They were allowed to call the local police for backup if anyone refused to cooperate with temperature checks or quarantine orders.
China also used a number of apps designed to record the whereabouts of millions of travelers. Some cities required passengers to provide their names, phone numbers and traveling history to local authorities before disembarking from trains or planes.
State industries redirected production toward essential goods and medical supplies. Workers who could do their jobs from home, and service employees were deployed in parallel industries like delivery to keep employment and wages up. At no point were daily necessities hard to come by — yes, even toilet paper.
Pursuing the result-oriented China model against COVID-19, provincial governments in Pakistan have introduced many packages for the care and relief of people.
Pakistan is observing a lockdown against coronavirus with no public transport and private cabs.
Only two people have permission to travel in a vehicle together, or three in case of a medical emergency.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shutdown Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport and Sukkur’s airport for all domestic flights till April 4. The airports will remain out of operation for all types of domestic incoming and outgoing passenger flight operations.
In Karachi, a big number of Sindh Police took control of streets and started patrolling to ensure the lockdown orders. More than 500 people have been arrested.
Pakistan government announced to give food ration and aid money to deserving people, admitted in isolation wards. Hand-sanitized booths have been installed in every nook and corner of cities. Streets and those buildings to remain opened are being sprayed. People are asked to stay at home to stay safe. Doctors are being provided anti-virus safety gears.
Muslims scholars have been convincing people to offer prayers at home. Religious gatherings have been cancelled.
The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also come up with facilitation package for the financial consumers during coronavirus crisis including the provision of “disinfected cash” and round-the-clock availability of ATMs in the country. A statement issued by SBP said, “Banks will provide fit, authenticated and disinfected cash. SBP will ensure to clean, disinfect, seal and quarantine all cash being collected from hospitals and clinics and to block the circulation of such cash in the market.”
On March 23, military came to rescue in aid of civil power under Article 245 read with Section 131(A) of CrPc across the country. DG ISPR Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar briefed media on the guidelines of the lockdown in a news conference.
National Security Committee formed a Novel Coronavirus Core Committee and tasked it to hold daily meetings of federal and provincial authorities. The government tasked National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to coordinate with provincial governments and lead the fight against novel coronavirus.
Definitely, all measures are commendable. But Health Code System through Apps and activating teams of volunteers will also make a difference.
Yasir Habib Khan, founder and president of Institute of International Relations and Media Research