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COVID19 Pandemic has hit the whole world severely. Pakistan is no exception. The assessment of impact is usually determined and published by the government as it has the resources required to collect data and analyze it. Historically, government figures in any area have been received with doubt. There have always been widespread allegations of data-tweaking to show ‘desirable’ results. The assessment of COVID19 impact is a similar scenario.
A detailed research article was published internationally on 6th January 2021 by a group from Sustainable Development Study Center, Government College University, Lahore. The authors included Dr. Rizwan Rasheed, Asfra Rizwan, Hajra Javed, Faiza Sharif and Asghar Zaidi. It is titled ‘Socio-economic and environmental impacts of COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan – an integrated analysis’ – (Environmental Science and Pollution Research https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-12070-7). The relevant link also appears at the end of this post.
It is a very important effort at an opportune time, and I wished to present some of this work in my blog. I wrote to Dr. Rizwan Rasheed for his permission which he graciously granted almost immediately. I am grateful to him.
COVID19 is passing through its third phase here and everywhere. The cases are rising every day and mortality is also rising proportionately. This discussion is extremely relevant, therefore.
The abstract puts the subject in perspective. [quote]
This paper analyses the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 peak on the socio-economic and environmental aspects of Pakistan. According to the estimates, an economic loss of about 10%, i.e. 1.1 trillion PKR, will be observed in the FY 2021. Certain pandemic impediment measures like lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions taken by the Government have been thoroughly analysed to determine how they impacted the livelihoods of nearly 7.15 million workers. Consequently, a rise of 33.7% of poverty level is projected. While many negative impacts on primary, secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy such as agriculture, education and health care are observed, a drastic improvement in air quality index of urban centres of the country has been recorded amid lockdowns. With current economic crisis, fragile health care system and critical health literacy, a well-managed and coordinated action plan is required from all segments of the society led by the public authorities. Thorough assessment of COVID-19 scenario, management and control measures presented in this study can be assistive for the provision of policy guidelines to governments and think tanks of countries with similar socio-economic and cultural structure. [unquote]
We all know about the beginning of COVID19 in Wuhan, China and its subsequent spread in 210 countries rapidly and aggressively. The countries with state-of-the-art healthcare systems scrambled to combat the disease and failed. Pakistan however showed remarkable success in flattening the curve during the first wave of COVID19. This has been attributed to the smart lock- down scheme launched by the government which involved identification of COVID hotspots across Pakistan and isolating those specific areas. The second factor is the high youth population in Pakistan. The countries which have been at the worst hit had population with an average age of 35–45. Moreover, various surveys have highlighted that a few cities and not the whole country are showing signs of widespread herd immunity. This phenomenon is helping the population to cope with the novel coronavirus.
Till October 2020, over 420,000 cases of infection were reported by the Ministry of Health, out of which over 6500 deaths were reported. The testing in private and government sector counted to over 5.7 million people. I do have a comment that the testing cost is high in the context of our general affordability. Like the step taken by the government for Dengue fever testing at low cast, similar step should have been considered for COVID testing. The test cost was lowered slightly, but it is still high.
The epidemiological analysis shows that COVID19 mortality may be comparable to Spanish flu of 1918. In terms of ‘viral velocity’ and ‘mortality rate’, COVID19 is less as compared to SARS and MERS viruses. Having said that, the scale of impact on the entire world is still unprecedented.
This is the beginning of COVID19 and initial findings about it. We shall continue with its impact on various segments in the next post.
Acknowledgement. I hereby express my deep gratitude to Dr. Rizwan Rasheed for allowing me to use their article for my blogpost.
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