A winter of distress

By: Syed Shahzaib Haider

The policy to handle the spread this time has to be more logical more human friendly and above everything the poor has to be fed by the government someway.

We all know how fear was triggered by the corona virus last winter, the coming winter is hard-hitting for everyone in Pakistan again because of the epidemic and the deaths god forbid it can bring in its wake. Whereas autumn was quite full of hope in Pakistan but suddenly things are changing, Toll is increasing again and assumingly it’s going to be the same sort of uncertainty again. All the world especially Europe is restorative for a winter of discontent as countries around the continent, concerned by fresh spikes in cases, pull down the shutters on economic activity to varying degrees.

Germany became the latest country to announce shutdowns of bars, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and theatres. The measures will remain in force until the end of the month. This decision followed a far more severe lockdown announced in the United Kingdom over the weekend which put the brakes on non-essential economic activity while confining people to their homes.

Almost every European country clarified that even supermarkets can sell only essential goods, and not everything on their shelves. Spain is under nighttime curfew, while Belgium and Italy have already tightened controls on movement in a bid to control the spread of the virus. These measures may well be warranted by the public health situation, for every day there are reports of the disease striking where least expected.

The WHO chief is the latest to go into quarantine following contact with an infected person while authoritative reports from Britain said Prince William, second in line to the crowd, had contracted the disease last April, at about the same time his father Prince Charles was ill with Covid-19. But these reports have not emphasized to many Europeans the nature of the continuing threat, for many are now furious with their governments for the fresh restrictions.

Protestors clashed with police in Spain over the weekend, angry over the restraints placed on them. The biggest demonstrations were in Madrid where people torched garbage bins and set up makeshift barricades to shouts of “Freedom”. There has been violence in several Italian cities and in Prague in the Czech Republic, where too protestors have reacted with anger to restrictions.

While authorities may have few options open to them in view of the higher incidence of cases, it is clear that restraints on business and commercial activity will severely impact the lives of many who may already have stretched their resources and savings in coping with the first rounds of lockdown. To be asked to curtail activities once again is causing anger to bubble over.

Authorities in Pakistan are also anxious to get a grip on the spread of the virus in the country, but government is gradually trying to put the SOP’s in place across the country because the lockdown in a country like Pakistan will have socio-economic impact on the downtrodden class of this country. We could certainly expect the outrage this time because the vast majority of our country is not ready to be locked down again into their houses and to not go out for work. Which has a clear reason for us to understand the grievance that the poor cannot afford stay inside for so long without work and money on them. So the government this time have to plan something more smart and different from the last time of spread of Covid-19. The policy to handle the spread this time has to be more logical more human friendly and above everything the poor has to be fed by the government someway.

The time ahead seems to be not so easy for the government of Pakistan, to pass through the second wave of the virus as effectively as they did last time. 

The writer is Director of the editorial board – The Dayspring. He can be reached at [email protected]