With Prime Minister Imran Khan’s announcement that he was ending the lockdown in phases, life in the major cities has begun to return to a touch of normalcy. Army soldiers who manned roadside checkpoints along with the police since late March when the lockdown was enforced have started leaving for their barracks. Some shops and businesses, like auto gear shops, hardware stores, small markets and allied industries of the construction sector will be reopened.

However, re-opening of certain businesses and markets should not mean that the cities should return to business as usual. Coronavirus cases in Pakistan have surged past 25,000. The situation is particularly alarming in Lahore and Karachi, which are the hotspots of the virus. In Sindh, sixty COVID-19 patients, including 52 in Karachi, who were mostly asymptomatic, were physically healthy, and advised to isolate themselves at home, have died in the past 40 days. These cases have left Sindh health department officials perplexed, who have so far been unable to ascertain the causes and reasons behind the sudden deaths of these physically healthy COVID-19 patients. This reflects that the health infrastructure of our country is still unequipped and overburdened to properly tackle this crisis – and any surge in coronavirus cases will exacerbate the situation.

Easing the lockdown might have been the right decision to make, considering the financial impact of the lockdown. Yet the public and the government must not become lax. More cases mean more damage to the economy in the long run. Industry limitations even with easier lockdown still exist. The government must reiterate that the lockdown has not been completely removed.

This is just the second, less restricted phase of the lockdown. Pakistan’s coronavirus curve is close to peaking. Safety is more important now than before.