Pakistan fears a second wave of Covid-19, which is taking hold as the winter is approaching coincidentally with dry/dusty weather. This second wave of the outbreak is linked principally with the government’s decision to reopen the mainstream educational institutions in the country from September 15, 2020.
As the pandemic is resurging, some of the schools and universities have been closed again the moment their students, faculty members, and other employees showed some symptoms or tested positive for Covid-19. It was/is a wise decision to proactively respond to mitigate the spread of infection.
Similarly, some of the shopping malls and restaurants were also sealed in different cities of the country for violating Covid-19 prevention guidelines. During the initial phase, the country was not ready to quickly respond to the Covid-19 outbreak in terms of the damage caused due to the spread of infection, its impact on the individual businesses as well as the learning process affected by the closure of educational institutions. But now we need to rationally deal with this second wave of the outbreak and all the stakeholders should realize their responsibilities at an individual as well as governmental level.
In case of any such decisions to close educational institutes, the faculty members and the students need to quickly adopt the online practices for continuing the learning process without waiting to reopen the institutes.
Now, the teachers as well as the students have already been equipped to a greater level with the capabilities required for the commencement of online classes. This will help in the minimal effect as a result of sudden closure and reopening of the academic institute. Similarly, to avoid the severity of the second wave of Covid-19, the teachers and students equally need to realize the social distancing requirement, use of masks and sanitizers, and isolating them from the rest of their colleagues and students if they feel the symptoms of being infected by the virus.
Additionally, the universities should proactively make arrangements in finalizing different applications to be used for online classes and taking other related help for ensuring effective online education. Likewise, a procedure must be defined to enable continuous contact for communication with those students who are living in the far-flung area having no access to the internet.
Apart from this, it is the prime responsibility of the government to take all those measures which may help in decreasing the spread of Covid-19 during this second wave. Currently, in Pakistan, one of the main/possible sources to increase the spread of infection is the series of political rallies organized recently by the All Parties’ Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
The worst part of such rallies is that it provides a platform to the people belonging from various districts of the country to gather at one point thus increasing the chances to initially get infected and then transmitting the virus once they go back to the areas from which they belong. More interestingly, under such conditions, no one could be held responsible for its spread as these rallies don’t have any documented record of the people who participated in each rally.
Likewise, all the businesses should strictly follow the SOPs outlined by the government. They need to ensure the availability of sanitizers at all the entry points in the shopping malls and shops, making sure that all the customers are wearing the masks and will observe the social distancing while entering the shops and avoiding overcrowding at such places. Similarly, all the citizens should realize to avoid visiting these places without having a genuine need.
Although these mini lockdowns would be helpful in an attempt to stop the spread, there is a dire need to make these lockdowns smarter enough to minimize the damage it may cause to the health of the people in addition to ensuring a minimal impact on the individual businesses. Closing only the educational institutes or sealing shops and restaurants while giving a free hand to the country’s political parties for organizing rallies and holding power shows will put a question mark on the responsibilities realized by all the stakeholders to combat this second wave of Covid-19 in Pakistan.