Coronavirus Scare and Economic Recession

The world has been suffering after the outbreak of a mild, yet deadly virus from the city of Wuhan, located in China. The virus belongs from the group of Coronaviruses, that have Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus that infected 8098 people with a fatality rate of 9.6%, hence killing 774 people in 17 countries where it was reported between November 2002 and July 2003. However, there are no cases reported of SARS since 2004. The current coronavirus is named COVID-19.

In November 2019, China reported its first case of COVID-19 and since then, there was a significant increase in cases all around China. On 22 January, China’s total cases were 571, but on 1st February, they rose to 14,380. On 21st March 2020, the figure states 81,008 cases in China with almost 3200 people killed by the epidemic. The Coronavirus

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who get COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

The virus was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11th March as the virus spread out to Europe, specifically Italy and along with Iran. Italy has reported 47,021 with 627 deaths (as of 20th March 2020). The Italian doctors were interviewed yesterday, according to the Pakistani media and were asked what actually went wrong, to which they replied that the people never listened to the government at the beginning and were too careless. They further added that the cemeteries are full and we have stopped counting the dead bodies due to such large number.

The WHO urged all the countries to take strict actions and enforce draconian regulations to stop the spread of the virus, COVID-19. This led to severe economic downfall in the world markets. The United States stock market fell sharply having the worst week of trading since the 2008 financial crisis, where many stakeholders lost billions of dollars.

In Pakistan, the economy is already struggling, and we were yet to see the worst as COVID-19 cases spike up to 534 (as of 21st March), according to the official website for COVID-19 by the Government of Pakistan. The only good sign for Pakistan was that the textile industry jumped to its full capacity production amid China’s closed industries due to the coronavirus. Besides that, the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) has lost almost 10,000 points due to uncertainty among the investors. This even led to a spike in the dollar exchange rate as almost 271 million dollars were taken out of Pakistan by foreign investors on 16th March, according to Dr Shahid Masood on his live program on GNN news (17th March).

People from the showbiz industry urged the government to lock down the country and started a trend on Twitter early morning on 21st March. Since we have almost 25% population earning daily, the government cannot risk creating a food shortage for the poor in the country as Pakistan is strong as Italy on the economic front. Italy has a health budget, that is 80 times more than Pakistan, still, they suffer the most right now having a higher fatality rate around the world with more deaths than China. The government of Pakistan is requesting the people to stay at their homes until further notice as this is the only way to stop the deadly virus.

According to the research of Imperial College of London, along with the World Economic Forum, a lock-down can halt the spread of the virus if not completely uproot it. Without any lockdown or social distancing measures, we can expect peak mortality in approximately three months. In this scenario, 81% of the UK and US populations would be infected, with 510,000 dying in the UK and 2.2 million deaths in the US.

The main question is, did the lockdown work? Yes. For a country like China, it took almost two months since the lockdown of Hubei province, where Wuhan alone has a population of 11 million. The lockdown started on 23rd January 2020 and on 19th March 2020, there were no positive COVID-19 cases reported in the Hubei province.

The problem Pakistan have is that no one listens to the government. Everyone has a misconception of being invincible, but this is not the case. The virus is highly contagious, maybe you don’t get it after having minor flu, but you may be carrying the virus and infecting others with weaker immune systems, that could eventually lead them to suffer in hospitals. At some stage, the government of Pakistan will take the draconian measures and impose a curfew-like situation to restrict any activity, i.e is a complete lock-down.

To make it clear, the government does not have sufficient facilities to help recover the outbreak. If it gets worst, then everyone will be paying the price. There is a shortage of ventilators in the world. In the USA, the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO machine) could not save the patients, which is a far more advance level equipment than the ventilator. Therefore, I request the people to stay at home and follow what you are requested to do.

Once a person came to a mosque on a camel and asked the Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that, “Can I leave my camel here on the shelter of Allah until I pray?”. To which the Holy Prophet replied, “First tie the camel to something, then leave it on the shelter of Allah”. This shows that Allah will save you from everything but there are precautions to be taken. Everyone must listen to what the government is asking you to do, as this is a fight the public will be fighting against, no government, nor the doctors could end this epidemic. It is you who have to step up and take necessary actions to overcome this global pandemic.

According to the WHO, everyone must wash their hands regularly for 20 seconds with running water and soap. Avoid touching your face and if you cough, try covering your mouth with your elbow and keep a social distance so that the virus could not spread further until a vaccine is made because together, we can beat the Coronavirus in Pakistan!

REFERENCES:

1: “U.S. markets wrap up worst week since the 2008 financial crisis”, Washington Post

2: All figures of virus cases: Worldometer.com

3: World Health Organization (WHO)