As the worldwide death toll from the novel Coronavirus has surpassed 100,000 with 1.6 million cases reported, World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the countries to be cautious about lifting restrictions introduced to curb the spread of the pandemic. Addressing a news conference, the UN Agency’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world body would like to see an easing but at the same time lifting restrictions could lead to a deadly resurgence. Indeed the very remarks of the WHO DG indicate the tough and challenging times ahead and the very warning by him should be taken very seriously by all and given heed to. The countries need to take cautious and well-calculated decisions keeping in view the ground realities to avoid the situation getting out of control. As a specialized body of the UN, the WHO has a leading role to play in the fight against the pandemic and it needs to bring together the researchers and scientists as well as public health agencies across the globe to find cure to the pandemic at the earliest. Setting clear global research priorities for the novel Coronavirus should lead to more efficient investment, high-quality research and synergies among global researchers.
Responsibility rests with the important capitals to fully support the agency’s efforts. Instead of raising fingers on its working as was done by the US P resident, its hands need to be further strengthened and supported so that it could build the capacity of the poor and developing countries to effectively handle the pandemic. We will rather suggest that a Corona Fund be established with economically strong countries contributing to it so that necessary medical supplies and logistics could be provided to the countries struggling to cope with the situation. As Pakistan is all set to take a decision about the extension of the lockdown today, the federal and provincial governments should not only keep in mind the WHO warning but they also need to be on the same page on the matter to give a message of unity to the nation. In fact all the political parties also need to support whatever course of action they decide for the coming days and months. The very remarks of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the P PP Chairman, criticizing the federal government’s response to the pandemic, during an interview with Sky News, are really unfortunate and should not have been made when greater unity and harmony is required. At the start of the breakout, Bilawal had earned great praise for expressing confidence in the leadership of the Prime Minister and decided to opt for no criticism policy over the pandemic. As we are yet to surmount the challenge, we expect that the PP P Chairman will continue to toe the same policy in the greater national interest. Given our economic situation especially the plight of daily wagers, PM Imran Khan has repeatedly and very rightly stressed the need to strike a right kind of balance between the lockdown and the economic activity and at this point in time we need to open only those businesses which are pivotal to run the wheel of our economy but this should be done after putting in place and ensuring safety guidelines at the workplace. P rotection of the workforce should be the foremost priority. We cannot afford addition of thousands of Corona cases as our healthcare system is ill equipped to bear that burden. Government has recently announced a very lucrative package for the construction industry which, in fact, has the potential of generating immense job opportunities in these testing times. The construction of road infrastructure and new houses indeed will help uplift several other sectors allied with the construction. The government should immediately take the requisite steps including the necessary legislation to ensure the package’s complete implementation so that builders and developers could invest in mega projects. This will also help attract the overseas Pakistanis to invest in the construction industry. Funds should be released by the government for the construction of road infrastructure both in cities and rural areas as such projects do not pose much threat to the spread of the virus.