False Claims of Success Won’t End Pakistan’s Coronavirus Crisis

With slightly under half a million Covid19 cases and around 10,000 deaths, Pakistan just witnessed its deadliest day last week with 111 deaths reported in a twenty four hour time frame. After loud claims by this government over summer that Pakistan had managed to defeat Covid and avoid what its neighbors, and other countries around the world have faced, it looks like all those claims are just hyperbole.

Guidelines issued by the National Command and Operation Centre said: “that social visits and family get-togethers should be avoided,” Christmas shopping should only be restricted to minimal essentials,” and that “The traditional gift exchange and large-scale home gatherings are likely to increase transmission so they should also be avoided.” However, as to be expected this advice was not followed.

Further, instead of seeking to boost testing, Pakistan is falling way short on testing: after peaking at around 48,000 tests in 24 hours, it has fallen to below 40,000 per day. Since the start of Pakistan’s daily testing has been the lowest in the region. While the government may claim low testing away by arguing that people are not coming for tests, this points to a failure of public health messaging.

According to an Editorial in Dawn, not only is the “collective response of both federal and provincial authorities” disappointing but “Pakistan is hurtling towards an abyss as it sleepwalks its way into a crisis that could see its healthcare system collapse.”

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