April 12, 2022
The outbreak of corona virus initiated as pneumonia of unknown cause in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, which then spread rapidly out of Wuhan to other countries. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus outbreak as the sixth public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), and on March 11, 2020, the WHO announced coronavirus as a pandemic. Coronavirus was thought to be increasing in Pakistan.
The first case of coronavirus was reported from Karachi on February 26, 2020, with estimated populace of Pakistan as 204.65 million. Successively, the virus spread into various regions nationwide and quickly became an epidemic. The WHO warned Pakistan that the country could encounter great challenge against the outbreak of coronavirus in the future.
The national vaccination drive was enforced and is still currently underway. With no local production, Pakistan had to rely on purchasing the vaccine, donations, or COVAX. As of May 5, 2021, Pakistan had vaccinated 2,967,870 citizens. This means 1.35 doses were administered per 100 citizens in the country. Aside from the fact that this supply had been constrained in developing countries, the rollout in Pakistan saw challenges of its own as Pakistani cities faced intermittent lockdowns.
Short, Middle, and Long-Term Projections Studies belied the claim of the Pakistani government that it had the pandemic under control through robust measures. The World Health Organization-led “National Seroprevalence Study,” conducted in July 2020, revealed that only 11 percent of Pakistanis had developed COVID-19 antibodies. It signified that 89 percent of Pakistanis were still susceptible to the coronavirus and that Pakistan was far from developing the kind of seroprevalence projected in other studies. However, the findings are still inconclusive as to the future of the pandemic in Pakistan in the short, middle, or long term.
Excerpt Projection from latest Report Pakistan – Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (June 9th, 2021) “We produce three scenarios when projecting COVID-19. The reference scenario is our forecast of what we think is most likely to happen: Vaccines are distributed at the expected pace. Governments adapt their response by re-imposing social distancing mandates for 6 weeks whenever daily deaths reach 8 per million unless a location has already spent at least 7 of the last 14 days with daily deaths above this rate and not yet re-imposed social distancing mandates. In this case, the scenario assumes that mandates are re-imposed when daily deaths reach 15 per million. Variants B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK), B.1.351 (first identified in South Africa), and P1 (first identified in Brazil) continue to spread from locations with (a) more than 5 sequenced variants and (b) reports of community transmission, to adjacent locations following the speed of variant scale-up observed in the regions of the United Kingdom.
In one-quarter of those vaccinated, mobility increases toward pre-COVID-19 levels. The worse scenario modifies the reference scenario assumptions in three ways:
First, it assumes that variants B.1.351 or P.1 begin to spread within three weeks in adjacent locations that do not already have B.1.351 or P.1 community transmission.
Second, it assumes that all those vaccinated increases their mobility toward pre-COVID-19 levels.
Third, it assumes that among those vaccinated, mask use starts to decline exponentially one month after completed vaccination. The universal masks scenario makes all the same assumptions as of the reference scenario but also assumes 95% of the population wear masks in public in every location”.
Status as of the end of November 2021 COVID 19
Covid 19 infections are decreasing in Pakistan with 331 new infections reported on average each day. That is 6% of the peak – the highest daily reported average on June 17th 2021.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection, found in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. The virus responsible for causing dengue, is called dengue virus (DENV).
Since 8 October 2021, Pakistan has been facing a continuous rise in dengue fever cases, leading to pressure on public and private hospitals, according to the district health officer. In Islamabad, dengue larvae were found at 53 different spots during the anti-dengue surveillance in the city.
Moreover, 13 October turned out to be the third consecutive day when the capital reported over 100 dengue fever patients, 115, thus taking the overall number of cases in the capital to 1,458. This trend is alarming for the capital and immediate actions are required to be taken. According to the district health officer, 948 cases were reported from rural areas while 470 cases were confirmed in urban areas of Islamabad. The district health teams are actively engaged in containing the spread by destroying the mosquito breeding sites through spray and fumigation. The Islamabad administration has launched an anti-dengue campaign in response to the alarmingly high levels of dengue fever cases.
SMOG in the start of Winters (Nov-Dec-Jan) Current Report as of 23/11/2021
Authorities in Lahore have decided to shut all schools and offices three days a week in view of the smog conditions in the provincial capital. According to a notification issued by the Punjab government, the public schools and offices will remain closed in Lahore from November 27 to January 15 – on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The Air Quality Index has reached dangerous levels in the provincial capital. The city has reportedly been amongst the most polluted cities in the world for the past several days. On Sunday too, the air quality in Lahore was recorded at 370.
Now with above statistics lets look at education and its state currently. During excessive lock downs , quarantines, 50% attendance and alternate day teaching and learning, the student performances deteriorated and so did the ability and skills of the teachers. Schools went on zoom and Google classrooms not realizing that maybe only 30% of the entire student population of each school had access to these classrooms. Reasons were numerous, ranging from 5 -6 kids in one household along with their parents trying to use limited access to the internet, Wi-Fi and even android phones and laptops, to having none of these facilities at home. Teachers faced the same problems in addition to not being fully trained to handle zoom / Google classes!
There was a state of total bedlam and chaos not to mention the frustration and irritation among all stakeholders. Small and medium businesses suffered losses and since they comprise of the bulk of the fee paying population the schools received limited payments. Parents decided to home tutor their kids or not at all, as they could not afford to pay fee out of their limited budget. The choice they had to make was to either provide food, clothing and shelter to their kids, that was a basic need, or pay their fee to get them an education. The choice was obvious so education anyways being the least priority of the large percentage of the people of Pakistan, no fee was paid to schools. On the other hand teachers and non-essential staff were laid off to reduce financial pressure on schools. This caused more joblessness, further inflation, hunger and frustration.
Amidst all this frenzy we as a school decided to ease the pressures on the community by giving a 50% relief in fee to the parents so kids don’t stay at home. Teachers were retained on full salaries so they were incentivized to stay on in hard times, they were trained to use zoom classes, what’s-app, face time and any and every social media contact to keep the students engaged. Having small class sizes with a student/teacher ratio of 4::1, my school was able to conduct regular classes with full SOP’s, preventions and safety measures to ensure the health and life of our students.
The result was that it worked! Students were able to complete their course of studies, take their exams and be promoted to the next classes without pressure on parents or students. But the post COVID era is now affecting them when schools opened in September. They had to get back into formal routines, schedules, text books, homework, classwork, tests and quizzes and the final semester exams. It was very taxing for teachers as well to harness the extra energy that these students had accumulated over the past 2 years. But they worked hard and diligently and were able to accomplish their targets.
However, the dilemma does not end there! Next Dengue attacked and precautions, fear and restlessness was back, but we are a resilient nation and that was not a hard task to face and overcome. We had fumigations every 2nd day inside and outside the school, kept the kids wearing full sleeves and using repellants and simple doses of quinine as a preventive worked. While still trying to cope with the dengue fever, they had to start facing the onslaught of SMOG! Another life threatening environment for children and that also just as they were taking their masks off and feeling out of danger. Lahore reached dangerous UV levels and became the 2 most polluted city of the world. Once again lock downs to avoid congestion of cars on roads and exposing the kids to the danger of air pollution.
As a strong, determined and resilient people of the south East Asia belt, from Nomads to the Harappa and Mesopotamian civilizations and the to partition and creation of Pakistan, we have faced all kinds of hardships and challenges and overcome them. The same happened from 2019 to 2021. We are survivors of great men and women and will survive to leave behind stories and legends to be told and retold to future generations.
American Business Forum