Human mobility and Corona Virus (A case of District Dir Lower)

By: Mohsin Ullah 

Two suspected COVID-19 cases were presented to the casualty of the District Head Quarter Hospital Timergara, District Dir Lower, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Miss Nowsheen a 24 years old female nurse, belonging to Islamabad and working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) which is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization working in different areas of Pakistan, especially for people in isolated rural communities, urban slums and areas affected by conflicts including Timergara, Dir Lower, KP. Miss Nowsheen, a charge nurse at MSF was having complaints of dry cough, sore throat and nasal discharge. She was having a travel history from Islamabad to Jehlam via Lahore 10 days back to attend his uncle who has returned from Umerah, according to her, her uncle was Asymptomatic but while travelling to Lahore and Jhelum. An umrah returned white-bearded person was sitting behind her, who was continuously coughing. The health care providers admitted her to the isolated ward due to her symptoms and strong travel history. Similarly, another suspected case of Mr. Abdul Wahid a 23 years old from a local village of Tehsil Timergara having travel history to Karachi and return 02 days before, presented to DHQ Hospital Timergara on 20/03/2020 with same symptoms. The swab of both suspected cases has been sent to NIH Islamabad for further investigation. We appreciate the quick response of the health care providers and pray for the recovery and negative reports of suspected patients. But the question arises that, how to stop huge human mobility from metropolis cities, by taking a small step to stop all means of public transportation both in and out movement.

The study aims to know the spread of coronavirus through the mobility of humans from metropolis cities towards isolated indigenous societies. The rural people of District Dir, which lives 306.5 kilometres away from the capital city Islamabad and 267.3 kilometers away from Peshawar via swat expresswayxzzZ. I interviewed a local coaster bus driver, who said that; everyday about 60 to 70 coasters leave for Timergara, after every 25 to 30 minutes, which carry 25 to 35 passengers depending on the capacity of a coaster. It means that daily more than 2500 people move from Islamabad to timer ara by Coaster service. According to the coaster driver, most of the people don’t use masks and passengers use to drink water by a one plastic cup during their journey. Most of the passengers belong to poor class families and students also use coasters due to limited pocket money. There is no facility of sanitizers and seats are very close to each other. So the people of Dir are very vulnerable to coronavirus and people are taking risks. Besides coaster services, there are other transport services which include rent a car service, flying coach service and other bus services carry many people from Islamabad to Timergara and timergara to Islamabad. The mobility of human from metropolis cities is very high which can affect the isolated indigenous societies by carrying the virus. Many people of Dir lower are not following social distancing policies. The movement of people should be strictly restricted everywhere. The people should follow the orders of their government and should stay at home. As we know that the number of cases is increasing day by day and according to the Geo news updates the confirmed cases in Pakistan reached to 761, while in Islamabad, the number reached to 11 and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 31 cases have been identified with 3 deaths. According to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, globally, 192 countries have been affected, more than 14,611 people have died and more than 335,403 infected by the disease as it spreads rapidly to new territories. The epicentre of the outbreak has now shifted to Europe, which is recording a rapid rise in new cases every day. As new cases continue to be reported on a daily basis, much remains to be understood about this virus, but what is certain is that human mobility is a reality which carries this virus, and we have to find ways within that reality to keep everyone safe and healthy while limiting the social or economic disruption. It is better to rest at home than rest in peace. Let`s stay at home, avoid social gatherings and maintain social distancing.

The Writer is an indigenous researcher and PhD candidate at the Department of Sociology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and can be reach at [email protected]