How did Pakistan manage to effectively control COVID-19?

Economist magazine had ranked Pakistan at number three out of 50 countries

The renowned Economist magazine had ranked Pakistan at number three out of 50 countries that performed well in controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

The report showed that Pakistan’s neighbours, India and China, were ranked 48 and 19 with scores of 46.5 and 72.9 respectively. The United States stood at 20th in the ranking.

The ‘Global Normalcy Index’ focuses on how better the countries are returning to their pre-pandemic levels, by grading each country using eight indicators: Time not at home, retail, office use, public transport, road traffic, flights, cinemas and sports attendance.

According to the report, a rise was witnessed in the global normalcy during March 2020 due to several countries imposing lockdowns. Hong Kong topped the list with a ranking of 96.3 while New Zealand was ranked second with 87.8.

Pakistan ranked third with 84.4 out of 100 as pre-pandemic level of activity. The country following Pakistan was the African nation of Nigeria, while the United States was ranked 20th on the list.

Prime Minister Imran Khan commended the performance of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Ehsaas team for their effective and coordinated response during the pandemic, which gained recognition by ‘The Economist’ in its report.

How did Pakistan reach the ranking and managed to handle to coronavirus pandemic? After the first case was reported in February 2019, the Sindh government imposed a lockdown while there were strict restrictions in the rest of the country.

Pakistan has been less impacted then neighboring countries such as Iran and India due to the timely intervention of state authorities. Pakistan has recorded less than a million cases so far while over 22,000 people lost their lives.

Why did Pakistan handle COVID-19 response effectively?

  1. Children have low immunity and educational institutions were closed in the first phase.
  2. Many cases were prevented by closing business centres, shopping malls as crowds lead to faster virus spread.
  3. The government closed mosques, churches, shrines, and other places of worship.
  4. Provinces banned inter-district transport and closed trains and domestic flights.
  5. Hospitals provided treatment only in emergency circumstances and closed OPDs.
  6. Cinemas, parks, museums, tourist spots, and other recreational areas were closed.
  7. The government imposed strict restrictions during Eid and other religious festivals despite public outrage.
  8. Dining at hotels and restaurants was prohibited and only takeaway and delivery was allowed.
  9. Staff attendance was reduced in government and private offices to half while many impose work-from-home model.
  10. Security forces were mobilized to ensure the implementation of wearing masks, social distancing, and other restrictions.