Step Up in Times of Crisis

Fatima Humayun writes about how the Corona Virus Outbreak is revealing our true selves

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has rippled jolts of fear around the world, for various reasons. It may or may not seem like we are living our own apocalypse, but needless to say in such difficult times, you actually get to see the real faces of people that you’re surrounded by. These are tough times. God forbid if someone gets the corona virus their families won’t even be going near them, because of the contagion issue. These tough times are made even tougher when corruption in society rears its ugly head.

The price gouging started as soon as the first case of corona virus was confirmed in Pakistan.  Many took this as an opportunity to make more money by ridiculously increasing the prices of masks and sanitizers, which is bizarre. Moreover, the hand sanitizers, masks and soaps were running short as people decided to hoard for the entire year, depriving the community with essential items. This should have been the store’s responsibility that everything should be in cap, not allowing one person to take such an incredible amount of things at once.

Things are, of course, a great deal better managed now, but it took us a while to get there.

It is heartening that at least the provincial and federal governments all seem to be on the same page now, finally! Because let’s look at the facts, sooner or later every country has undergone lockdown as it is the only way to get this situation in control. Economy as a whole, worldwide, will be affected. This is the time to prioritize.

Thankfully, philanthropic measures are also taking place. There are donations coming in from abroad and then of course, there’s the famous Pakistani charity, that Prime Minister Khan frequently discusses. All of this can and should make a difference.

We need even more, though. More citizen ownership. There are hundreds of philanthropists, celebrities, and common people who have stepped forward but we still require more. We need those in society with the most to help those with the least. That is the only way Pakistan will survive this lockdown and the outbreak in general. We need the government and relevant organizations to especially look into  helping the daily wagers, people living in slums who have no idea what is going on – these people don’t even have clean water to wash their hands with. Giving them rations and masks and sanitizers needs to be the order of the day.

The front liners – We are fully aware of lack of resources our government hospitals provide our doctors and paramedics with, they are not always provided with proper bodysuits, they have to use a single mask for many days, still they’re tirelessly giving their days and nights. There is no salute that is great enough for them.  

There are design houses with factories such as Asim Jofa who has recently been successful in preparing a bodysuit prototype for the doctors which was approved by the JPMC authorities and he’ll be providing them those for free. Similarly there are many people with resources who are manufacturing and providing masks for free.  Indeed true heroes come out like this during hard times.

Celebrities can continue endorsing and advocating self isolation. They have a platform and influence millions. Now is the time to use it caution and urge people to stay home. You and I need to practice that as well. It will take all of us, in every capacity possible, to beat this.

And most of all, resist panic. The main thing we need to fear is dread itself. Let’s not let our hope die. We need it more than ever today.