Smart lockdowns are a viable option for the governments to launch targeted tracking, tracing, testing and quarantine mechanism in coordination with the national security apparatus to halt the spread of COVID-19.

The purpose of a smart lockdown is to provide relief to the labour class and the lower strata of the society so that they could survive economically along with fending off the virus.

The government has come up with a balancing strategy of a smart lockdown to help weaker segments of the society earn their livelihood while at the same time isolating the coronavirus cases and their contacts to contain the disease. It also allows the economy to function smoothly with guidelines of preventive measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks.

According to a report by Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, the COVID-19 has a latent period of 3 days, in which it is non-infectious. The suggested 14-day quarantine keeps people away from their workplaces, and hence helps stop spread of the infection. Even if someone gets infected on Day-1 of the cycle, their peak infection period would be during the lockdown days, reducing the number of secondary infections they can cause. Given the analysis above it is a safe estimate that smart lockdowns are here to stay.

As China recently reported a second wave of virus infections in Beijing, smaller regions susceptible to the virus outbreak will be isolated to ensure that the spread of the virus is contained.

Pakistan must stay ahead of the curve to ensure that its policy of smart lockdowns is not only viable, but also unopposed by the people. In such conditions, an odd player has emerged as the holder of the banner of change. Saeed Book Bank, the famed bookstore in the heart of the capital of the country, has raised the voice for improving mental health in these times.

A growing body of research indicates that reading changes your mind. Using MRI scans, researchers have confirmed that reading involves a complex network of circuits and signals in the brain. As your reading ability matures, those networks also get more robust and more sophisticated.

The Book Bank has reached out to its customers across the country to request the higher authorities to treat bookstores around the country as medical centres. In these times, books are the solution to these problems. Because parents–usually absent during the day due to their work–are at home too. They can disseminate school curricula and knowledge through books. As students are missing out on essential schooling, they are at risk. Younger children, as well as students with special needs, find it difficult to concentrate on their full capacity with online educational tools. Young children need the assistance of in-person instruction and may find it challenging to focus on a typical frontal class conducted on computer. students, with special needs, who also rely on in-person instruction, may find it especially challenging to switch to online platforms.

A rethink henceforth is required for smart lockdowns in Pakistan. The government has opted to open markets and financial institutions for limited periods to restrict the movement of people. I want to put forward an alternative. Rather than fixing times, these services should be offered round the clock. Since as closing time nears, people are in a rush to reach their homes and gather in their offices in the shape of groups, spoiling all social distancing. By ensuring round the clock services, commotion at the service centres could be avoided.

 

Hamza Aamir is an Economics and Mathematics graduate from the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He can be reached at aamir19131@gmail.com