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Continued from Previous……
While we write this, the third wave is already sweeping the country. There is every day increase in cases and fatalities. We shall come to this later.
Economic repercussions are an integral part and logical consequence of any pandemic. From Spanish flu to SARS, decreased demand of goods and services, supply chain disruptions and loss of employment and income was expected and seen. COVID19 is no different. Because of worldwide closures, there was major disruption in production and shipment of goods. As soon as situation got better, the prices increased manifold and are still staying at the same level. Many small businesses in Pakistan were forced to close, making a large number of people unemployed. Daily wagers and undocumented labor force, such as construction workers, logistics workers and household workers were severely affected. Women were affected even more on two counts: one, leaving job voluntarily to look after household and family during lockdown and work from home; two, forced stoppage of domestic and other workers by their employers to save costs and minimize risk of infection.[Quote] The impact (assessment) of COVID-19 on global GDP …reveals that the impacts are not of that adversity level until date, as observed in 2008–2009 fiscal crisis. The economically stable nations of the world are forecasted to encounter a GDP growth decrease of 7.8% including the USA, where the IMF has projected a decline of 5.9%. In the case of European countries, the GDP growth rate is forecasted to decrease by 7.5% while in developing countries with emerging economies, a 2% decrease is anticipated. However, the economy in China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia will reflect an increase in GDP in the final quarter of 2020. It has also been inferred that the global fiscal deficits will require a long time to recover post-COVID-19 control. In the second quarter of 2021, a fragmental recovery period can be expected in GDP growth; however, that would be far below the pre-pandemic rate. [Unquote] [Quote] Pakistan already had a weak healthcare system. Only 2% of GDP is allocated for the public health sector which is far below the worldwide average of 11.6%. [Unquote]
The spread of COVID19 in Pakistan started slowly. Cases were reported here and there with disparity seen between provinces. Blame-game also started as to who is handling better or worse. The federal government took some time to react. While the world was locking down fast, we were debating whether to do so or not. The lockdown was forced with a massive increase in cases.[Quote} As hospitals are inundating with COVID-19 patients and constantly pacifying fatality rates, Pakistan’s feeble health care sector is invigorating for an impending peak of cases. The country is rapidly taking measures for strengthening the public health system in order to effectively cope with the pace of pandemic spread. The important measures include estab- lishing new laboratories and importing ventilators, testing kits and personal protective equipment for health professionals. The number of infected cases observed an exponential in- crease in May–July, surpassing China, the epicentre of COVID-19. Although the public sector representatives claimed that the condition of coronavirus spread is under manageable limits, the health care officials kept on pleading that within the existing financial and technical capacity, further increase in cases will result in collapse of the health sector… This further adds to the concern of policymakers in Pakistan during such pandemics. Moreover, viewing the inadequacies of global health care systems, it is a deep concern for a country with such resource-constrained settings, to scale-up the disease de- tection and treatment facilities for efficiently and promptly addressing wide-reaching outbreaks of the deadly disease. [Unquote]
COVID19 forced a grinding halt on industry, travel, outdoor activities, dining out, public transport, and production activity. The jobs were lost but due to restrictions on mobility and production, demand for fossil fuel went down considerably. A positive outcome was significant improvement in the air quality in major urban centers of Pakistan. A similar trend was seen worldwide. The concentration of regular pollutants was reduced considerably. It was a common observation that the day sky looked clearer and bluer, and the night sky looked brighter with stars, after a long time.
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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