For a range of reasons, a complete lockdown is the opposite of the solution we need to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. This necessitates the need to find an alternative that can help reduce the pressure on the economy without putting lives in danger. This alternative can be a ‘smart lockdown’, one that is well enough to balance between lives and livelihoods. The lockdown cannot continue indefinitely, but if it is lifted there would be a surge in the number of infections, forcing another lockdown. A model of a smart lockdown, developed by a group of scientists, recommends an intermittent lockdown: ten days of lockdown and four days of work per fortnight.

Coming to the situation in Pakistan, in recent days, the increasing volume of traffic on the roads and voices heard on the media tell us that people want the lockdown to end. Heavy losses are certain to be incurred on the economy and individuals in the form of a fall in the GDP through trade disruptions and increasing unemployment and poverty.

In this scenario, Pakistan can opt for a different version of the smart lockdown. Wearing gloves and masks reduces the transmission of the virus, and should be made mandatory for everyone leaving home. Those who can work remotely should continue to do so. There should be an extra emphasis on following strict SOPs at the workplace. This strategy needs to be adopted by taking measures, including hygiene, physical distancing and testing, tracing and isolating the infected. There should be certain penalties if the workplace proves to be a hub for the virus. No strategy can or should remain static. With experience and evidence all strategies must change and develop. People need to adhere to the guidelines, SOPs and other information that will guide as well as educate them on how to stay safe, and keep others safe. Designing a lockdown mechanism that is actually smart, fully implemented and diligently monitored can help us get out of this situation.

SAQIB ISHAQ,

Azad Kashmir.