Karim Muhammad Khan
Alongside natural disasters such as earth quakes, floods, tsunami, cyclones, hurricanes and droughts studies also illustrate that the history of epidemics and plagues have ravaged human population and disrupted the pattern of normal life too. For instance, the discovery of 5000-years old houses in China filled with human skeletons revealed the lethal epidemics which infected and perished people of all age groups.
For instance, the Black Death in 1346-1356 travelled from Asia to Europe killed nearly half of Europe’s Populations. In addition, the American plague of 16th century brought by the European explorers obliterated nearly 90% of indigenous population in western hemisphere. From the Great plague of London 1665-1666 nearly 100,000 people including 15% of the population of London died.
Similarly, the Russian Plague of 1770-1772; the Flue pandemic of 1889-1890 during the modern industrial age; the American Polio pandemic in 1916; the Spanish Flue of 1918-1920; the Asian Flue in 1957-58; the HIV-AIDS Pandemic in 1981; the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic in 2009-10; the West African Ebola 2014-16 and many more epidemics infected and annihilated millions of human population across the globe.
The current pandemic ‘corona virus’ also known as Covid-19 originated in Wuhan China in December 2019 and has infected more than 400,000 people and wiped out around 20,000 individuals in more than 190 countries so far and the infected cases and death toll are on the rise. This lethal virus has forced governments to lock down their countries for social distancing of their citizens in a bit to prevent further spreading.
Pakistan is also bearing the brunt of COVID-19 as the number of cases is increasing and it will be difficult to control if the situation gets worst. The diverse and multi ethnic society of Pakistan perceive this peril differently. Some consider it as an ordeal on behalf of Allah; yet some others blame the government of not handling this menace properly. However, there is a lesson to be learnt that nobody can deny the fact that human body provides as a host for such viruses irrespective of caste, creed, colour, faith and nationality. Hence, it is the common enemy of humanity not just of any particular religion or nationality.
It has indeed disrupted the pattern of normal life and routine practices by closing educational institutions and businesses; shunning from religious congregations and political activities; suspending exams; social distancing and avoiding shaking hands which seems awkward. It is unknown when will it end and at what cost and consequences?
However, it would change the course of routine life as nations may rethink its policies and procedures regarding immigration, education, business patterns; religious congregations and social gatherings and events. Usually it is said that “united we stand and divided we fall” but in case of Covid-19 it is the other way round.
Apart from other field of life, Covid-19 will have huge impact for educational institutions as well where traditional classroom pedagogy seems to be changing into online digital and distance learning programmes ahead for children. In this regard, educators and other employees have to revamp their existing capacity from traditional knowledge and pedagogy to ICT related skills in order to reach out their students and clients on line and to sustain their jobs as well.
God forbid if Covid-19 gets prolonged, economies of the world would unemployment could accelerate across the globe that would further augment poverty particularly in under developed countries where resources are already dwindling due to bad governance and corruption.
Nevertheless, to break the chain of this lethal virus the only solution as per the advice of physicians is to take precautionary measures such as social distancing, practicing quarantine, tracing and testing people who had contacted with the infected ones along with washing hands can be effective to control this virus as China has contained to a greater extent by following strict quarantined and other preventive measures for its people.
Therefore, we must follow the directives of government and experts from health department in fighting the covert enemy. Otherwise taking it lightly can have terrible consequences for all of us as a lesson to be learnt from Italy where soft reminder of social distancing was not taken seriously which resulted in hundreds of casualties on daily basis.
Finally, it is high time that developed nations should assist underdeveloped countries to control this fast communicable virus by sharing expert opinions, providing medical equipment and other essential resources as these countries are already lacking human and material resources. Further, NGOs, individual philanthropists and business tycoons should be generous in helping the needy families in this time of dire need.