As deadly coronavirus is knocking doors of every nook and corner of different cities and villages, as many as 10 steps the Punjab government should take immediately before the situation gets out of hand even further. We must remember that we are not able to provide adequate healthcare facilities to sick people and the provincial government cannot afford a calamity and further loss of lives.
- Close restaurants and cafes for a period of a minimum of four weeks. This includes a ban on taking away and deliveries – we cannot risk the lives of our delivery boys – they are human too. Cafes, home bakeries, dhabas, etc should be closed immediately.
- Full closure of all private and public sector organizations, labor-intensive factories, and offices. Work from home should be implemented across the board. At this stage, a majority of the organizations are not taking the decision to make work from home fully effective.
- Closure of all religious or worship places, markets, shopping malls, play areas, parks, and other recreation facilities and places that attract large crowds and any type of gatherings. This includes salons, parlors and other places providing services such as laundry, car wash, etc. Ban on online product deliveries for four weeks. Convert hotels into healthcare facilities to deal with an emergency.
- Grocery stores should be opened for a few hours only. Senior citizens and physically challenged persons should be given a morning slot so they can buy whatever they can as per their convenience.
- Daily wage labors must not be called in and the government should announce support packages for them.
- Immediately launch a door-to-door campaign or survey to collect data on the number of people currently sick or having travel history or quarantined and family status.
- Begin an aggressive awareness campaign (television, newspapers, radio, SMS, and social media and other tools) to create alertness among the masses on seriousness of this virus and use innovative social and behavior change communication tactics to change attitudes and convince people on basic hygiene. Target rural and remote areas.
- Ban all intercity and inter-provincial travel and close international and local flights. Intercity public transport buses, and wagons, etc should be halted temporarily.
- Procure additional ventilators and get the health system prepared quickly for an emergency. Make available masks, gloves, and local sanitizers.
- Distribute care packages among the elderly, underprivileged and the most marginalized!
Let’s make sure that only the privileged don’t get to practice social distancing – the government owes it to every resident of Punjab to safely practice social distancing for at least a month. Let’s urge the provincial government to take all necessary steps in a collective battle against deadly coronavirus.
Reproduced these suggestions with the permission of Anum Pasha, a senior communications consultant, who shared this write up on her social media