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Leading in a pandemic crisis

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NO government in the world had a primer to deal with the unprecedented pandemic which plunged countries into unmapped territory. However, several months into the global health emergency, lessons have emerged from across the world to show what worked to mitigate and contain Covid-19 — and what did not. It is never too late for a government to change course even in the midst of an uncharted and evolving crisis, especially as more evidence emerges about how best to tackle it.

By now, the most obvious and instructive lesson is that it is “rapid, decisive and collective action that can prevent the spread” — as an influential report from London’s Imperial College put it.

And this advice from the World Health Organisation remains imperative to fight the virus: “Countries must continue to find, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”. And “If countries rush to lift restrictions too quickly, the virus could resurge and the economic impact could be even more severe and prolonged”.

Informed by this perspective, the prime minister might consider taking the following five steps: 1) send clear, coherent and consistent messages to the public; 2) act decisively; 3) lead a unified, multilayered, national effort with close coordination with all provinces; 4) stay a firm course on social distancing; and above all 5) be guided by the evolving medical science on the pandemic by giving a lead role to medical specialists who understand this, not generalist bureaucrats.

Like other countries, Pakistan is navigating a crisis that will test its leadership.

Why urge these steps? To answer this, consider what has happened so........

© Dawn

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