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The title can be interpreted two ways. One, that we are down with lockdown; two, as a protest slogan against lockdown. Both interpretations are reflective of our current situation, but first with the first day of ‘smart/soft lockdown’ which was Monday 11th May.
I have heard that as soon as the branded garments stores and markets opened on Monday morning, the customers queued up in large numbers for Eid Shopping apparently. The parking spaces filled up and the nearby roads got choked and small and large shops were full of customers, men, women and children. All newspapers carried the story and pictures next day along with pictures. The rush appeared to be almost normal.
This makes me raise two points; both serious but one more than the other.
First point. The entire campaign and awareness about ‘social distancing – the only way to protection’ evaporated in minutes. There was no distancing as none was possible. People physically rubbed shoulders with each other. Hardly anyone was wearing masks or gloves either. Is it due to lack of knowledge or lack of belief? It is true that there have been loud voices on all sides. Some say it is hoax, fraud; some say we have very strong immunity because we live in sub-standard conditions. It is not a nice smelling argument, but it appears to give us concessions. So, we take it and promote our self-made concept of heightened immunization and how it will protect us.
So far, increase in new cases has been seen wherever lockdown has been relaxed. And it is as per expectation. However, our resources to fight active cases are much less than those countries.
Another important variant is the testing facility. I heard Dr. Sohail Chughtai of Chughtai Labs on TV telling that the NIH (National Institute of Health) Islamabad has not yet allowed to use test kits for the definite diagnosis of CORVID19. It is due to the relative inaccuracy of the method. The kits may be used for initial tracking. Suspected cases will then be subjected to PCR testing for a more definite diagnosis. Ali Gohar Pakistan has recently gotten approval and launched rapid test kit which is duly certified by the regulatory bodies. At the same time, several unscrupulous elements have also somehow imported/ smuggled various brands of uncertified kits which are being sold and used for rapid testing. It may be creating confusion due to false negative or false positive results. This is another complicating factor we are seeing in Pakistan.
Due to sheer disregard for all physical protective precautions such as social distancing, masks and gloves, we may see a huge surge in new cases. Where would the Eid be for those who fall prey to COVID19? In Isolation? So where would the Eid dresses and other preparations go? May Allah give us wisdom to do better. Aameen.
Second Point. Since COVID19 started, we have been constantly hearing about the plight of daily wagers, daily workers, small roadside businesses and a whole lot of small-time earners who lost their income and thus their means of living. The economic impact of COVID19 is going to be much greater and longer than the health impact. The income inequality will increase further and related social, psychological, physical issues shall also increase. We shall see how it unfolds. The point I am raising is the campaign about helping the people in turmoil and sharing a part of our good fortune with them so that they can hope to survive.
The Eid shopping craze is pointing to two things.
One, we did not take the concept of helping others well. Allah knows who did what. We do hear about lot of people doing lot of good. However, it looks like that the majority either saved their resources for their own use or shared only a tiny little part. In either case, we fell much short of what was expected of us as a nation and society.
Two, we are a bunch of insensitive consumers who would enjoy their lives no matter what disaster is happening beside them. Our callousness is obvious from the Eid shopping spree. Eid shopping is always additional expense, which is never essential, it is only social. All of this or most of this or at least some of this money could be diverted to help the people in need. We do argue that we cannot differentiate between truly deserving and fakes, but the case would not rest here. We can find the truly needy with some effort, if we are willing to part ways with our money.
Spending like crazy on Eid shopping is doubly bad. We did not take care of the deserving people in the time of dire need, and now we are displaying our wealth to make them feel even more deprived.
Our callousness is also evident from the things that have happened since the beginning of COVID19. The hoarding of necessary items, overcharging, selling counterfeit items, running after every opportunity of profiteering and such things are ample proof what we are made of.
Prayers are for those who fear Allah and follow Allah’s Commandments, whenever we choose to be among them. Until then, we are on our own.