Economist Atif Mian suggests ‘national lockdown’ to combat COVID-19

'Lockdown will give Pakistan essential time to build critical capacities and plan ahead'

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KARACHI: Atif Mian, Pakistani-American economist and former member of the prime minister’s economic team, has suggested several action steps in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan.

In a series of tweets on Saturday, the economist advised the government  to take bold steps if they want to save citizens from the pandemic. As of 21 March, Pakistan has 543 cases of coronavirus. 

“Pakistan is on an explosive coronavirus trajectory and needs to take immediate, bold and clear-headed steps to protect its people and the economy,” said Mian.

He suggested that Pakistan implement a national lockdown, shutting all non-essential activities and gatherings to stop contagion. “This act will buy you essential time to build critical capacities and plan ahead,” he said.

Mian also called for the testing and healthcare capacity to be improved, besides the smooth flow of food and medicine supply chains. 

“Train health workers for contact-tracing, re-purpose buildings for recovery wards etc. Bring all resources to bear on this. It is testing and certainty of safety that will allow country to return to normalcy,” he tweeted. 

He said the private sector, NGOs, and social protection programs, like Benazir Income Support Programme, should rally together and protect the most vulnerable. 

“The continuous testing and contact-tracing will tell you when and where you can start easing up to bring the economy towards normalcy. This will be a test of will and competence. Thousands, perhaps millions, of lives depend on it,” he warned. 

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