The decision of the Punjab government to extend the smart lockdown in Lahore till mid-July was needed, as new cases are still surfacing. As Lahore makes the most significant and most critical hotspot area in Punjab, the government had no choice but to make stricter arrangements in certain areas of Lahore. However, the need is to ensure that the smart lockdown is more effective. The officials must learn from the weaknesses and faults that were experienced when this idea was implemented for the first time.

The strategy can prove useful in flattening the curve provided it is properly enforced. And the most critical factor in stricter implementation will be inter-departmental coordination. A well-coordinated smart lockdown is the only way forward. Effective hotspot lockdown can make a decisive difference. The government must closely monitor the data of the cases, as it will keep the officials informed about the ground realities. It would have also been wise to extend this policy across other hotspot towns in Punjab as well. Perhaps that will come at a later stage. Since eight out of the twenty towns identified as hotspots for COVID-19 are in Punjab, only continuing with the smart lockdown in Lahore cannot generate the desired results.

However, Punjab has also removed the mandatory double negative testing clause for patients that were in corona wards. Now, these patients can leave if they have no symptoms after ten days. This is a dangerous oversight on the part of the authorities. The decision can render all the efforts of the Punjab government to contain the virus fruitless, including the move to extend movement restrictions in Lahore. Ten days is generally the period where symptoms are at their strongest, but many patients have been ill for longer. Undoubtedly, the removal of double negative testing is not an intelligent decision. The government is opening up an avenue for additional infections even when it is closing one by extending the smart lockdown.