Prime Minister Imran Khan’s frank and open discussion with the press regarding the spread of the coronavirus and the government’s steps to counter it is very welcome, especially at a time when confusion and misinformation are reigning supreme. The PM’s pledge to keep the public abreast of what is happening every two weeks and a promise to not hide anything in terms of the numbers of those affected will also be fundamental in our fight against the virus. As the Prime Minister himself admitted, bringing the public into confidence is needed if we are to be united in limiting the spread of this pandemic.

A key feature of his meeting with journalists was the announcement of a relief package being prepared as a substitute for a total lockdown of the country at this stage. The fact that the government is taking the process of combatting the virus step-by-step is positive, as a pre-emptive lockdown would only unnecessarily stress every individuals’ incomes and savings.

Without work and any economic activity in Pakistan, it will become difficult to hold off against the pandemic for too long. Hence this strategy should be reserved for if and when things get significantly worse. Additionally, a very significant portion of Pakistan’s workforce relies on daily wages, and practically speaking, it is just not possible for the government to provide that large a bailout and fight the virus simultaneously. We need to understand our limitations.

For the business community, the government has promised relief, which must be used to offset the burden of a potentially extended holiday on the workforce, instead of using this bailout to shore up the profits of large business owners. At this time, it is important that we all stand together, and follow the government’s preventative measures as best as possible on an individual level. The fact that the government has been proactive on this issue even before the virus entered our borders – and continues to do so today – is heartening. Our role as citizens in preventing the proliferation of the virus and avoiding creating unnecessary panic also continues.