Pakistan’s struggle to contain Covid-19 pandemic

Pakistan was among the first few countries where public policy discourse on how to respond to Covid-19 started in early January 2020. Initial discussion focused on whether or not to evacuate Pakistani students from Wuhan, the then epicenter of coronavirus outbreak in China. Over 20000 Pakistani students are studying in higher education institutes in China. The government, on that occasion, decided against evacuating the students from Wuhan for the fear of local spread and being cognizant of the limitations of public health system to deal with such an emergency.
Moreover, Chinese nationals have a sizeable presence in Pakistan. When China announced nation-wide lockdown in late January, many Chinese citizens, based in Pakistan, had travelled to China for annual Chinese New Year holidays. Most of them still remain in China.
The situation took a turn when positive cases of novel Coronavirus emerged in Iran, Pakistan’s south-western neighbor, in mid-February. Thousands of Pakistani citizens visit Iran every month for pilgrimage. Islamabad was found wanting in its response when these pilgrims returned home. Pakistan initially decided to close down border with Iran and commenced preliminary screening of passengers coming from Gulf and Europe. A temporary quarantine center with inadequate facilities was established in the border town of Taftan (Balochistan) to house over 1400 returnees from Iran. First positive case of Covid-19 in Pakistan was, meanwhile, reported on February 26, 2020 in Karachi where a pilgrim, who had returned from Iran, tested positive for the disease. Read More…

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The Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) is a nonpartisan, independent policy research institute based in Islamabad. Our goal is to undertake in-depth analysis of challenges and choices confronting Pakistan. We aim to help policymakers and public better understand the world, region and Pakistan-specific challenges and opportunities. We make efforts to engage government, civil society, private sector, media, academia in open debates and dialogue on the most significant developments in national and international affairs. We envision contributing to policy-making through periodic policy-papers putting forward policy-recommendations developed in collaboration with experts and stakeholders in each area. IPI takes no institutional position on policy issues.


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