Karachi, March 21, 2020: The outbreak of the respiratory virus began in China and was spread across the globe courtesy air travelers who ran high fevers. The pandemic has not only distraught the economy but has its fair adverse effects on almost every sector including the food industry, fashion, electronic, automobiles and technology.
Pakistan faces an ‘extreme emergency’ situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, where the number of COVID-19 cases has sharply risen over 700, and military armed forces being positioned on priority to ensure the availability of medical facilities to the public.
Consequently, three casualties have also been reported due to the virus in Pakistan, where the outreach has crossed to more than 160 countries, resulting in casualties of over 9,000 people.
With such alarming numbers of people being affected due to the corona pandemic, the government has taken concrete steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in the interest of the country. Prime Minister, Imran Khan in his address to the nation requested his countrymen ‘not to panic’ amid a noticeable spike in the coronavirus cases, and simultaneously stressed on the fact that Pakistan cannot afford the economic cost of shutting down its cities for a long period.
However, the provincial government in Sindh province where over 70% of Pakistan’s coronavirus cases are located, issued orders to partially shut public spaces in Karachi – the country’s largest city which has been instructed to limit gatherings, shutting down public parks and government offices and requiring all restaurants to move to takeaway and deliveries only, with a sigh of relief being provided to the stores and shops selling essential daily life products alongside the pharmacies which have been instructed to ensure round the clock services along with a careful watch on the stock availability.
While these preventive measures taken by the government have received global recognition by WHO, the public life has come to a halt limiting people within their homes, with internet and telecommunication being the only source left to commute with their loved ones in Pakistan and abroad. It is pertinent to mention that this source is also considered to be the most imperative tool of information which helped to create awareness of the coronavirus amongst the masses courtesy social media, being next in line with electronic media.
Facebook – the online social networking service & WhatsApp – the famous cross messaging platform in partnership with WHO, UNICEF and UNDP announced the launch of WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub to offer actionable guidance, general tips and meaningful resources for the users across the globe to be well aware about the disease and hence limit the widespread of rumors.
To take advantage of this resourceful platform, it becomes imperative for the masses to have an active telecom service which might eventually be difficult to ensure for the people in Sindh, where the authorities are to ensure telecom franchise closure which can lead to making public life worse for the people who may find themselves disconnected from the world.
The mobile phone service retailers who may have been allowed by the authorities to operate may also find themselves stranded in this situation where bill payments, mobile balance top-up, money transfer, utility bill payments and other secondary services are only possible as a result of round the clock support and contact with the franchises of these cellular service providers.
According to the sources, these franchises have been instructed to observe closure of their businesses for a period that stretched to three weeks, thus issuance of a SIM card or activation of cellular services may as well face limitations, since the public access to these franchises has been restricted as part of the preventive measures taken by the government in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
While no appraisal would suffice the efforts of the Government, it would be great if they could implement some effective measures to provide relief to the general public, by trying to have these cellular serve providers operate in the maximum available capacity via their franchises, as that would not only ensure uninterrupted connectivity to the people but will also help them to remain updated with the latest happenings on their mobile phones, as well as being connected with their loved ones across the globe.