ISLAMABAD             -         Amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan, only strictly adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) can help protect the masses from coronavirus infection.  Pakistan as a responsible member of the world community has taken bold and timely steps to impose restrictions on public gatherings, social and political activities, educational institutions and public transport operations to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.

Likewise, the public is time and again sensitised to ensure at least six feet distance while interacting and avoid handshake, hugging and wearing of masks during meeting with each other. Only the responsible move of individual members during the current pandemic can ensure safety of the collective wellbeing of the society. Actually, the virus is transmitted either through direct contact with the infected person or with the droplets of the infected person’s cough or sneeze, or touching the surface that has cough or sneeze droplets. And later on touching the mouth or face with the infected hand as the COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for several hours. 

Therefore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its updated guidelines on COVID-19 has advised the governments to encourage the general public to wear medical masks in clinical areas of health facilities and in areas of widespread transmission and community transmission. Likewise, the WHO has also advised the people to wear masks where physical distancing was not possible such as public transport, shops, and confined and crowded environments. 

 According to Pakistan’s real-time updates data portal for COVID-19 till filing of the feature, the virus has so far infected 171,665 people and caused deaths to 3,382 in Pakistan.

The area-wise details of the coronavirus cases are: Sindh 65,163, Punjab 64,216, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 20,790, Islamabad 10,279, Balochistan 9,162, Gilgit-Baltistan 1253, and AJK 803. The portal has also reported the recovery of 63,504 coronavirus patients in the country.  Since, the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country on Feb 26, 2020, the government wanted to adopt a holistic approach to curb the spread of virus and let certain economic activities continue working to sustain life.

 Thus the government has launched the approach of smart lockdowns - the targeted tracking, testing and quarantine mechanism in coordination with national security apparatus to curb the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the country by sealing the areas of infected cluster population (hotspots). 

Talking to APP, General Surgeon, Nowshera Medical Complex, Dr FazalGhani has urged the people to frequently wash hands with soap at least for 20 seconds and avoid contacting sick people. He said that in the existing social structure and combined family system, one has to be more careful about the precautionary measures. People should avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, adding that only strict precautions can help the masses from the virus infection, he added. Clinical Psychologist and Vice President Academics, International Islamic University, Islamabad, Dr Muhammad Tahir Khalily said that the coronavirus was a health issue.

Cardiologist, Dr. Noor ul Karim, Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar while talking to the agency said that the coronavirus infection was dangerous for everyone but especially for those who were already suffering from some illnesses i.e. lung problems, cardiac issues, weak immune system and aged people.

The government should implement its SOPs as it was the only way to contain the spread of virus, he added.