Now that global coronavirus cases have exceeded the 10 million mark, and approximately half a million people are already dead from this novel infection, there is a need for countries to join together and rethink their approach. So far there has been broad agreement about how to proceed. Initially almost all countries favoured locking down, though some like Pakistan did not want to shut down completely because of the immediate risk to daily wagers and lower income groups. Then, after a few weeks, as economies were tumbling almost all countries saw the logic of opening up, partially at first, so people could at least start working and earning again.
However, understandable as the bit about the reopening was, there’s hardly a place where it has brought really positive results. With the small exception of countries like New Zealand and South Korea, there has been a sharp increase in cases almost everywhere. And now, after passing the ominous 10 million line, no country can deny that whatever precautions they have taken have not really succeeded. So what to do now? It’s not as if there are too many options to choose from. Governments could choose to keep opening up in phases and hope that the 10 million number would frighten people into observing social distancing rules more strictly. But that would still mean that people have to gather in the same places to work, and in most countries most of them would also have to travel on over-crowded public transport vehicles to get there, which means that the chances of the virus spreading remain pretty high.
Or, taking the other route, they could choose to shut down once again to arrest the depth of the spread. That, however, would seriously cripple economies and drive millions of people into poverty, which has its own social implications. Already the world is at the unique position of almost all countries either not growth at all or contracting. Pakistan, which registered a negative growth rate in the outgoing fiscal year, falls in the latter category. Either way, it seems things are going to get worse before they even begin to get any better. And in such circumstances, where the most important thing is for people to stay away from each other unless it is absolutely necessary, it is really up to the people to make sure that this fight is eventually won. Perhaps the time has come for all countries to untie and draw on each other’s experience and resources because unless this disease is defeated everywhere, no place will really be safe.