The National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, that discussed the steps to be taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus included some important measures that will be taken in the coming days. Among other things, the government decided to restrict the use of airports, close the Afghanistan and Iran borders, ban large public gatherings, set up a national coordination committee and launch a comprehensive awareness campaign.

And while each of the measures approved provide immense value against the virus, we must also be creative in our approach to fight this pandemic. Outside of Pakistan, countries such as Korea have introduced innovative means to test for coronavirus, such as setting up drive-through centres where citizens can pull up in their vehicles and get their vitals tested. Back here at home, in Lahore, the Parks and Horticulture Authority has pledged to set up hand-washing stations in five major parks around the city, with soaps and sanitisers as well. This sort of action needs to be extended to other public places as well.

Alongside this, a creative awareness campaign will do wonders in dispelling myths, calming the general public and providing reliable information about the virus. In Vietnam, the government developed a catchy song with information, that later went viral and was a soft approach to calm any fears that people might have had. It helped individuals realise the personal responsibility they had in fighting off this infection and the actions they could take to keep themselves safe.

Conversely in Moldova and Romania, the government has had to use the police to round up infected people who are actively avoiding going into quarantine or the hospital; this is what can happen if panic or disinformation are allowed to take root in the midst of an international health crisis.

The government should take heart from its own work so far. This meeting and the decisions taken are only evidence of that. Aside from some troubling reports of testing facilities still not fully aware of what they have to do – the government must look into these – Pakistan has been fighting the spread of the virus in the best possible way. The only thing left is to increase the number of testing facilities and medical units. There is no harm in being extra careful and preparing for a potential influx of patients to hospitals.