By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Mar 21 (APP):The novel coronavirus had created widespread panic and alarm in world after its detection at Wuhan City of China on January 7, 2020 that had killed over 2.694 million people in almost all continents including Europe and Asia till March 18, 2021.
Keeping in view the surge in mortality due to the corona infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concerns (PHEIC) on January 30, 2020 and later as ‘pandemic’ on March 11, 2020. Till March 18, coronavirus had infected over 121.914 million people and claimed 2.694 million lives.
According to National Command and Control Centre, as many as 615,810 cases were reported in Pakistan including 2062 critical, 13,717 deaths, 577,501 recoveries with 9.648 million tests conducted till March 18, 2021 since in spread.
Widespread fear griped the globe especially the people of subcontinent including Pakistan after report of first two deaths due to COVID-19 in Iran where number of cases grew exponentially and expanded to Afghanistan followed by Pakistan thus bringing the regional countries in the spotlight. The first case of coronavirus was reported on February 26, 2020 from Karachi where the patient arrived from Iran was tested positive and later more cases were reported from other areas of Pakistan including KP where the first death was reported from Mardan district.
Following reports of first death in Mardan, there were widespread concerns whether the country could counter the catastrophe that was posing threat to human lives. Pakistan being a responsible country while realizing the gravity of the situation mobilized the entire official machinery and institutions to contain spread of the infectious disease and provided timely treatment to infected patients through strengthening the public sector hospitals and by establishing quarantine centers all across the country.
During first COVID-19 wave (February-September 2020), the government’s response was channeled through a cooperative mechanism with inclusion of all key institutions and stakeholder including military that led to national cohesion and institutional harmony. National Coordination Committee (NCC) under chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan was formed to take immediate decisions on issues related to the pandemic.
To implement NCC’s decisions, National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) were constituted comprising both the cabinet ministers and military officers under chairmanship of Federal Minister Asad Umar to take swift action against pandemic. Besides NCOC, NDMA, PDMAs, RESCU 1122, doctors and paramedics had played important role in managing gargantuan crisis.
“The Prime Minister’s smart lockdown policy in Punjab, KP and Balochistan had saved hundreds of thousands of lives from killer virus and from starvation, malnutrition and hunger,” said Mohibullah Khan, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock while talking to APP. He said PM’s smart lockdown strategy provided much needed striking balance between people’s lives and hunger that was highly succeeded and followed in many countries.
The Minister said despite criticism from the political opponents, the government policy for a targeted lockdown in a bid to keep the economy afloat besides distribution of billions of rupees under Ehsas Cash Emergency Programme among poor people have proved very successful and provided a dignified way to poor to fulfill their daily use expenditures.
Professor Dr Muhammad Naeem of the Swabi University said, “Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Govt successfully managed to keep the economic wheel moving during the pandemic. The Govt diverted funds to Ehsas Emergency Program after the country recorded a current account surplus and received record remittances last year, he said.The country’s exports, textile and construction industries were upwardly growing due to smart lockdown policy and that was why the country’s economy had sustained COVID-19 jolts besides creation of employment opportunities for youth, he added.
National Action Plan against COVID-19 was prepared focusing the key areas including strengthening the capacity of hospitals to handle outbreaks besides providing emergency kits, medial equipments and availability of sanitizers and face masks for doctors and paramedics and other frontline workers.
Similarly, integrated disease information management system (IDIMS), education institutes monitoring system, tele-health portal COVID-19, isolation hospital and infections treatment centre (IHITC) were setup besides raising of tiger force (the volunteer) and establishment of Prime Minister Relief Fund.
In order to tackle the third wave of COVID-19 infection, the KP government closed all government and private schools nine high prone districts include Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Kohat, Malakand, Swat and Dir Lower till March 26, 2021.
A high-level committee of the cabinet members including Health Minister Taimur Salim Jhagra, Labour and Culture Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai and Special Assistant to CM for Information Kamran Bangash was constituted to deliberate with traders and business community regarding possible closers of the markets.
Kamran Bangash, Special Assistant to the Chief Minister KP on Information and Higher Education hinted a complete lockdown in the province if number of COVID cases exceeded from 70 to 80 percent at hospitals. He feared the third wave of COVID-19 could be more dangerous than the previous two if the people would not adopt precautionary measures.
The CM’s aide said all the bazaars would be closed by 08:00 p.m for which a notification was issued by Home Department. He said educational institutions in all those districts where the coronavirus ratio exceed from 10 percent would be closed to contain spread of the virus.
The Health Minister Taimur Salim Jhagra said in the light of past experience we would be able to counter the 3rd wave of corona infection with the help health departments, doctors, paramedics, practitioners and others line departments.
He said KP Govt has decided to setup walk-in vaccination centers for senior citizens, adding except pharmacy, bakery, general stores, dairy and others essential services, all shops and markets would be closed by 8 p.m and indoor dining at marriage halls and restaurants, holding of culture and sports events and entry in shrines had been banned, adding all public parks would be closed at 6 p.m.