THE collective recklessness of our political parties, including the opposition and the governing PTI, has led to an alarming increase in the country’s number of cases involving Covid-19. Rallies in major cities, a massive election drive in Gilgit-Baltistan and a mass funeral for the TLP president have shown in recent weeks how far away the threat of corona virus is from our political leaders’ minds.
Although the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F took the lead in calling followers under the umbrella of the PDM alliance to super-spreader meetings, the Jamaat-i-Islami was responsible for a similar folly in Swat as thousands gathered for a party-called public conference. The PTI, too is guilty of electioneering in GB in the pre-pandemic style and of holding large conventions in the capital.
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The acts of these parties’ elected officials are supremely incompetent and betray a reckless approach to an epidemic that has ravaged lives and livelihoods worldwide. Perhaps more disappointing, the opposition is expected to miss this week’s crucial meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Corona virus Disease as part of its decision to spurn the speaker of the National Assembly whom it suspects of biassed conduct.
“It is hardly surprising, for all these reasons, that global health expert Zulfiqar A. Bhutta described the Covid-19 virus public discourse and the response in Pakistan in a piece for this paper as “akin to seeing a slow-motion crash landing. The PDM will do well, though to put all of its rallies off before better times come.
In August, the lowering of the curve found both the regional and federal authorities embracing an attitude to prevention procedures far more relaxed and resuming civic operations with a gusto that would have made one believe the pandemic was over. That is far from the truth, sadly.
The truth is dreary: Covid-19 events are rising to unsafe levels, speeding past 7pc with a national positivity ratio. This ratio is also higher in Azad Kashmir, KP and Sindh, at 11.45pc, 9.85pc and 9.63pc respectively. The cities of Rawalpindi, Multan, Lahore and Faisalabad are becoming hotspots in Punjab, while cases are also rising in Gilgit and Islamabad.
The number of chronically ill patients admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 has doubled in the last fortnight, according to the NCOC. The average daily death toll has been reported at 35 in the last seven days. About a quarter of the overall positive cases, worryingly, come from educational institutions.
This attitude of head-in-the-sand is inappropriate and warrants a radical shift. Instead, those who are responsible for changing Pakistani citizens’ lives are placing them at risk. Infected patients would be vulnerable when hospitals grow overrun if the present rising tide of positive cases is not stopped. This country’s individuals and healthcare staff deserve more.