‘Strict’ lockdown: Make it genuinely strict
Given the alarming surge in death and infection rates, the government has finally decided to go for a countrywide 'strict' lockdown beginning from April 14. Whatever has been imposed under the cloak of lockdown in the past few days, has surely failed to contain the virus. In reality, such relaxed and lackadaisical lockdown has only contributed in the spread of the virus. Another evident whim from the government's end compels us to ask - why wasn't the 'strict' lockdown enforced earlier? Were our health authorities gambling with time and people's health?
The million dollar question, however, will an overall strict lockdown serve the purpose? It will, and it will only be possible if the general public coupled with law enforcers together jump into action.Except for emergency services, all government and private offices and factories will remain closed during the weeklong lockdown. Public transport services will also remain suspended.
However, not too long ago we had penned to declare a health emergency throughout the country, and the situation is fast heading in that direction. We had been relentlessly pitching for a stringent lockdown for over a week, since the ongoing restriction was unplanned, uncoordinated and clumsy in its enforcement. That's why the government had to backtrack on its decisions repeatedly. Simultaneously, another huge problem which we currently observe is public negligence and indifference towards the Covid-19 situation. While a countrywide media campaigning could surely help to bring the sloppy people to their senses, it is also time to engage the army to assist law enforcers in enforcing lockdown rules.
As optimistic we are, once implemented with stringent measures, the lockdown would surely curb both infection and death rates. Once we begin to draw positive results - it must continue for a longer period of time - if necessary, throughout the entire month of Ramadan.
Last year, we witnessed the detrimental impacts of a nation-wide lockdown in the wake of Covid-19, especially on low-income, subsistence workers and workers dependent on daily wages. Since the same situation is likely to repeat, we urge the government to seriously consider launching a new and expanded stimulus package for the poor and small traders to mitigate the economic fallouts of an extended period of lockdown.
Last of all, although the 'strict' lockdown is for only seven days, unless it is sternly enforced, the measure will be meaningless. Since the government and administration have markedly failed to draw lessons in the past year, we would at least hope the two to have drawn lessons from the so-called first lockdown phase ending on 13 April.