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Impact of the Pandemic | Editorial

The efforts of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) must be lauded for bringing out data about the effects of the pandemic on the people. And since reliable numbers have now confirmed that almost all the jobs (about 85 percent) lost during the first wave of the coronavirus were eventually recovered, Federal Minister Asad Umar is well within his rights to say ‘I told you so’ about the V-shaped-recovery that seems to have taken place. Yet even though the government did a fine job back then, and the rest of the world appreciated as much, this celebration does amount to too little too late considering how the second wave is strengthening.

There’ also the added trouble that the new, far-faster spreading strain of the virus that first appeared in the United Kingdom (UK) has also been found in Pakistan. So we’re already at a position where coming events are completely unrelated to whatever miracle was achieved over the summer. Not only is the positivity rate very high once again and healthcare facilities have started coming under a lot of strain, the government could also be forced to come up with yet another comprehensive relief package for the economy. Sad as it is, it means that however well we did last time is already of no consequence.

Therefore senior ministers should be more worried about how PBS’s next round of job trends will look. Now that the economy is going to grow a lot slower than expected – 0.5 percent according to the World Bank’s estimates – a lot of jobs that were recovered will be lost again. And something must also be done about the capacity of hospitals. Last time the government was able to weather the storm by erecting temporary Covid wards all over the place, and since the infection rate is again on a sharp rise it might have to repeat the exercise. Such issues should be worked out before the storm hits with full force. That last thing one expects of a government that did so well the first time is for it to be caught unawares.

Source: https://dailytimes.com.pk/712233/impact-of-the-pandemic/

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