Lockdown answers.


THE government is mulling a relaxation of lockdown restrictions as it is confronted with alarming repercussions. Figures shared by Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar are indeed startling, as they suggest the closure of up to a million institutions, unemployment of 18m people and forcing 70m people below the poverty line. The picture painted by these numbers is one of sheer hopelessness - a scenario the government wants to understandably avoid.

To further build a case to ease restrictions, Mr Umar said that Pakistan's death rate is lower than other countries, and that the hot weather, BCG vaccine or anti-malaria drugs may be underlying factors. 'We are living in a region which is blessed for an unknown reason,' he said, adding that many more people die in road accidents each month in Pakistan than they do to Covid-19. There is no doubt that a continued lockdown for an indefinite period will unleash crippling economic hardships on vast segments of the country's already stressed population. The question now is whether Pakistan is ready to relax restrictions, and what these relaxations will look like.

The answer will come from the data. Pakistan's confirmed coronavirus cases have crossed the20,500 mark with over 450 recorded deaths. These figures have been calculated after a total of 212,000 tests, with maximum daily testing at 9,500. At this rate, and with some lockdown restrictions still in place, nearly 10pc of those being tested are confirmed positive and 2pc of them are dying. If restrictions are...

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