The world is facing a global pandemic called the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. What started off as a disease spread by, reportedly, bats in Wuhan, China, has now become, unarguably, one of the greatest threats to the world. The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province, and resulted in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As of April 29, 2020, there have been more than 3.11 million reported cases across the world, with more than 217,000 deaths, and around 932,000 recoveries. In Pakistan, more than 14,885 confirmed cases have been reported, 3,425 patients have recovered, and 327 have died.

Almost every country is struggling to fight against the coronavirus; health officials in Pakistan are also doing their best to control its spread. Pakistan’s top health official has stated that the intensity of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is not as severe in Pakistan as it is in many other countries. But the numbers speak otherwise. The official data has shown that confirmed cases are increasing day by day.

In this global outbreak, people should act smart and responsible instead of putting everything on the government. Many countries have opted for a lockdown and precautions have been recommended. The most common precautions include social distancing, avoiding handshakes, refraining from going to public places, and using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or soap. But, unfortunately, not every person is acting upon the advice of government and doctors.

We have to ask ourselves: are we really taking this pandemic seriously? Because even now I see people who don’t care about the deadliness of the coronavirus, or perhaps they just don’t know much about it. Either way, citizens should be more responsible in this situation because not everything is the government’s fault.

The terrifying fact is that there is still no official vaccine for the coronavirus, and antibiotics don’t work. And that is because it is a virus, not a bacterium. The present treatment for viruses also does not seem to work on the coronavirus because it is new and there’s less information about it as of now. Despite that, there have been recoveries from this disease, which might be a silver lining. But that does not justify people going out and gathering in any area as the disease is still pretty deadly.

This pandemic has affected the daily wager in Pakistan so badly that we cannot even imagine. And that is why Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, which is providing relief on the basis of merit, transparency and impartiality. The prime minister directed MNAs and MPAs, throughout the country, to play a vibrant role in providing relief to people in their individual constituencies, especially during the holy month of Ramazan.

Reportedly, the Ehsaas programme is playing its role in helping the needy. As the government is doing what is necessary, I think it would not be appropriate if doctors are not appreciated in this time of crisis. This pandemic, and all previous ones, are a clear example of how doctors are the true heroes of a nation. They have played a vital role in the fight against COVID-19, and this, in my opinion, is the perfect time to appreciate them for their service.

Apart from what we see and read in media, there have been a lot of theories regarding the coronavirus that seem terrifying even if they are not true. One that is the most popular among conspiracy theorists is that this is not a pandemic that just happened by chance. According to them, this virus was actually spread on purpose and the objective behind it was depopulation. We have all heard stories of secret societies and the selected elite that is said to control the world. Is this pandemic actually part of a plan? A step towards a “new world order”? Well, there is still no hard evidence supporting these theories, so one can only guess.

Many videos have been posted online where people infected with the coronavirus are seen coughing and sneezing on objects present in grocery stores or on anything they can find. This takes me back to my question whether this pandemic is really a part of some huge plan that we still don’t know about. Why do they want people to die? The question remains unanswered to this day.

It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the economy of underdeveloped countries; many of these countries, such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, are not economically strong so they will have to face far greater damages. The International Monetary Fund expects the global GDP to fall by three percent in 2020. Pakistan will, inevitably, be impacted by both the global and domestic developments arising from the spread of the coronavirus. Pakistan’s economy was reported to be recovering slowly but now the spread of the coronavirus is most likely to become a major obstacle in the way.

Another major problem in countries like Pakistan is the lack of medical facilities. It’s no secret that Pakistan’s healthcare facilities are quite weak, and we do not have enough to support our entire population. Our doctors and nurses are doing everything that is in their power to provide the best possible treatment. One can only pray that the coronavirus does not cause more damage than it already has. Countries like Pakistan cannot afford the coronavirus spreading exponentially.

Lack of awareness remains a huge issue. It is evident that people are not taking this pandemic seriously and don’t understand how their actions can affect the ones around them. Infected people may still be going out to family gatherings, public parks or other places. With limited resources there is only so much that government can do; people, therefore, have to protect themselves and the ones around them by staying indoors and disinfecting their houses.

Where the coronavirus might sound frightening, it is how people behave that would help to control it. It is up to us to practise the methods recommended by the World Health Organisation: social distancing and using alcohol-based sanitisers and soaps. Proper sanitary methods are required, use of masks and gloves is essential, and awareness about the virus and its deadliness, in my opinion, are of the utmost importance. The government alone cannot fight the coronavirus.

May God have mercy on us.