To lift the ban or not? How effective can lockdowns be in controlling COVID-19?
As the number of coronavirus cases in Pakistan continues to rise, the question of whether to lift the lockdown or not has been a serious bone of contention. In the advent of this pernicious disease, the collective aim of all the affected countries is to ‘flatten the curve’. The lockdown approach seems to lessen the risk of infection and smooths out the slope. This has been substantiated, as New Zealand observed level 3 and 4 lockdowns in March and April, and currently has zero new cases.
Although, deemed an aggressive approach, if observed with the right measures a lockdown can prove to be highly effective. The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to call on all countries to implement a comprehensive approach, to slow down transmission and flatten the curve.
However, implementing a complete lockdown can take a toll on a country’s economy, ergo, countries like China, Pakistan, and parts of Europe have started easing the lockdown. Given the recent changes, WHO updated its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to include the six criteria a country must meet to lift the lockdown: transmission is controlled; the health system can test, isolate and treat every case; outbreak risks are minimized in vulnerable places; workplace preventive measures are established; importation risks can be managed and the communities are fully aware and empowered to adjust to the new norm.
Lifting the lockdown is going to be a process, and it demands cooperation from the nation. Striving to find a balance between preventing further loss of life against catastrophic economic loss, is a complex and fraught task, making the question of when exactly to ease shutdowns a hard one to answer. In conclusion, the lockdown is only effective if the guidelines given by the WHO are observed, and a contingency plan is put into place.
By Willa-e-Ali & Hurmat Sajid
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