It was the end of December 2019 when China was preparing for their lunar year holidays and then all of a sudden a disease like pneumonia halts China.
It emerged from an animal market in Wuhan when a man contracted the virus from the animal and then transmitted to more people. From there, it spreads all over China and then on Jan 11, 2020, China reported the first death from the novel Coronavirus.
The virus travelled at a breakneck speed in China and then to the USA, Italy and Iran and make an alarming situation for other countries. On March 11, 2020, WHO declared Covid19 a pandemic which can reach every corner of the world.
Pakistan was safe but the chaos started when a student in Karachi was tested positive on February 26 after returning from Iran. And by the end of April, Pakistan had over 20,000+ coronavirus cases.
How it Impacted Our Lifestyle?
With the rise of Covid19 in Pakistan, the first step the government made was to shut down the schools and then the offices. It wasn’t a complete lockdown but a smart one where the people who were on daily wages were allowed to earn following all SOPs.
Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad – all three major cities of Pakistan witnessed an unsoothing silence on the streets. Karachi, the city that never sleeps turned dark and the fear took over every corner of Pakistan.
Hospitals rushed to emergencies, the spacious places like Expo centre were converted into quarantine centres. The Pakistan army took control over the situation and cooperated with the government to save people from the virus.
In those uncertain times, NGOs of Pakistan stepped forward to help the people affected by the lockdown. The government too declared monthly ration bags for the needy but some organizations were kind enough to help people on their own.
Not only the organizations, the students, entrepreneurs and youth of Pakistan also took this challenge and tried their best to save people from starvation.
One such great example is “Bhookay Nahi Soyengai” – an organization led by a child activist, Hasan Adeel who pledges to let no one die from hunger in lockdown. He started by distributing food on his own and then fundraise for people to lead a Dastarkhuwan where everybody can eat and sleep with a full appetite.
That was humanity coming out of the bad times. But the environment causes depression in people especially when covid19 in Pakistan result in job loses and declining effect on the economy.
A lot of companies in Pakistan downsized their employees or cut-off their salaries. Some of them were confident enough to fire their workforce keeping pandemic as an excuse.
On top of that, the continuous news on deaths and misinformation caused anxiety in people which led to suicides as well. Since, January 2020, 29 suicide cases were reported, in which 16 were related to Covid19 who feared the economic recession and gave up on their life.
On the other side, the lifestyle in Pakistan took a 360-degree shift. The extravagant wedding events turned into private nikah ceremony with 4 to 5 people included. Even celebrities of Pakistan started their new chapter of life with small-budget, at-home marriages. This was a good change as our religion Islam has always emphasize on simple marriages.
Since offices were also closed, so people need to adopt working from home. But work from home is a real struggle for Pakistanis because most of them live in a joint family and it’s quite tough to make the family members understand about the priority of work from home.
The next big problem in WFH was for the companies about how to manage the employees from home as according to most of the employers if they don’t sit with their employees, they don’t get the expected work. But regardless of the circumstances, everyone tried to cope with the situation.
According to Tribune, 54% Pakistanis faced salary cut or have been laid off by their employers during Covid19.
One of the oldest apps Zoom which was getting blurred gradually became the need of the hour because all the online meetings and classes were held through Zoom.
Not only Zoom but also the social apps like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok became a good pastime for people. But most of the Pakistanis spent their time watching the Turkish drama serial, ‘Ertugrul‘ which became popular after our prime minister Imran Khan suggested people to watch.
People also started working on their side hustles more such as freelancing or their online businesses. Since they worked from home, they say they have enough time to manage their side hustles. And that’s true because when you work from home you save the free hours, cut the commute and focus on work only.
That resulted in the rise of freelancing in Pakistan and also online businesses. Even women in Pakistan started their side hustle to support their families. The quarantine period in Pakistan gave people ample time to focus on their hobbies and display it on Instagram, Facebook and other social accounts.
Most people took this time as a blessing and learn skills to earn money online while others took online courses in their field.
Like, meet this girl Raazia Anum an energy engineer who makes the most of her quarantine period. She enrolled in a number of courses on environmental sustainability and earn many certifications to grow her portfolio. She also completed her thesis and presented it in an international conference of a leading university of Pakistan (SZABIST). With her contributions and continuous learning to grow, her company promoted her and that becomes a big motivation to make this year the best of hers. According to her, the pandemic turned out good as she has been able to help more people with charity drives and also earned great achievements for herself.
You’d have also witnessed the rise in social networking and people adopting the digital environment. Even some schools and colleges started their online education and make this pandemic no excuse to stop learning.
However, for parents, it was a tough situation to handle. But gradually people started adopting covid19 and it gradually becomes a new normal for people.
And there’s one such group which became a savior for people, named as Corona recovered warriors. Founded by Zoraiz Riaz, this group becomes the ultimate need of the challenging times which connect corona recovered people to the patients so they can donate the plasma. This plasma therapy became effective in treating covid19 patients and according to reports, this therapy saved 92% of the covid19 patients in Pakistan.
Pakistan and India contracted initial cases of the virus in the same month but India’s way of tackling the virus goes down the drain completely. India’s government announced the complete lockdown which resulted in the death of people from starvation, anxiety and depression more than the virus itself. Whereas Pakistan smooth strategies to slow down the virus and standing together as a nation proved to be effective for the nation. Now, India has broken all records with the growing coronavirus cases and Pakistan’s situation is under controlled.
For the first time, we also experience, Ramadan in lockdown when congregational prayers weren’t encouraged and people prefer to offer Taraweeh prayers and obligatory Salahs at home. While some of the mosques and people continue their congregational prayers to make sure that the virus did not become an obstacle in between them and their prayers regardless of the circumstances.
The lockdown in Pakistan was lifted completely on 10th August 2020 and life gets back to normal. But people still were afraid of the mass gatherings and followed the standard operating procedures on their own.
From February to September, the time was challenging but with the complete faith and prayers to Allah, people in Pakistan survived the dark times.
The virus gave a tough time to the recently placed, government of Pakistan, especially for Imran Khan as he wanted to work for the progress of Pakistan but the virus depletes the economy completely and left them in more crucial times.
However, his efforts to handle the situation has been praised by WHO and other nations a lot. Pakistan became one of the top seven countries in making the pandemic easy for people.
By Sept 15, the government announced to open the schools so students can continue their education at schools.
The schools reopened in Pakistan with strict SOPs and guidelines with no assembly and break times as students need to stay five feet apart from their friends.
When asked students about how they feel studying in this environment, they say, we no longer enjoy our studies and we’re bored. That’s quite saddening because for kids, their friends are their source of happiness and if they’ will stay at distance with each other forever, how will they nurture their bonds.
After the reopening of schools, mass gatherings, wedding halls, it seems like covid19 in Pakistan is entering into its second wave. The cases are slightly rising but this time since the people are trained and know the consequences so they are following the safety protocols to stay safe from the virus.
Life might have been back to normal but with the fear of contracting the virus, we might not enter the pre-covid life again. We might not shake hands forever.
The pandemic has changed our lifestyle completely. People have stopped investing their money on brands and shifted towards a simple lifestyle. According to the Washington Post, more than 100,000 businesses in the USA have been shut down forever.
Only those businesses who align with Covid19 and attach emotionally with the customers became the need of the time. Whereas on the positive side, the pandemic gave birth to creative, artistic ventures to spread awareness about Covid in Pakistan.
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. . . . While people are now sick of quarantine and sadly getting bored and ignorant of this pandemic, here is our little effort to refresh awareness. Stay Inside for mutual safety. For the ones who might not have the same immunity as you. Together we can fight it 💪 . . A group of 5 digital artists from Pakistan collaborated to send Covid-19 awareness in their own unique style. Artists in order @youtoonify @artbyshariq @faryalm @ijlalaslam @sambhalkar_soch . . . @yarcollective @covidartmuseum #thecoronicles #covid19 #coronaawareness #thecoronicles #letsfightthistogether #quarantinedays #staysafe #stayinside #wecandothis #youtoonify #artbyshariq #faryalmehmood #faryalm #ijlalaslam #sambhalkarsoch #aimannoor #safetyprecautions #dontrushchallenge #pakistan #covidartmuseum
No one has predicted that a tiny, unforeseen virus will change the world completely.
Now, when the virus is still there and not showing the signs to disappear, we should all plan our lifestyle accordingly.
Some Lessons from the Pandemic
- The pandemic has given us great economical, spiritual, life lessons which we can never forget. But the most important lesson is that of humanity. If we stand together as a nation, we will have a thousand ways to fight the pandemic but if we’ll become racist, judgemental and turn a deaf ear to every warning, then we won’t be able to fight any pandemic or disaster.
- We all must realize that instead of panicking in tough situations, we should immediately adopt the solution, stay calm and be mindful of our actions.
- Misinformation is the root of all chaos especially in natural disasters so always fact-check before you share anything. During Covid19, people were depressed of hearing the death and illness reports which turned off their hopes to survive.
- Health isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. If you’re healthy, you can think of ways to survive. But if your health isn’t into your favour, the disappointments and stress can affect you more than the pandemic itself. So, a big lesson is to take your health seriously.
- In the book, Mans’s search for meaning, the author Viktor Frankl survived the torture in the concentration camps because he had a purpose in his life. He was hopeful that one day this all will end and he’d be able to live. His purpose makes his life meaningful. Like him, if you also have a purpose in life, you can survive almost any how.
- This pandemic has taught us the value of our relationships which we have been neglectful for years.
- Pakistan is still lagging in healthcare. We don’t have enough hospitals, staff and digital healthcare equipment to treat everyone equally. Because of this only the rich gets the treatment while the poor survive so we must pay attention to improve our healthcare system.
- Life is simple and hygiene is important.
- Death is inevitable but your attitude towards the problem is evitable. So, always think, plan and find the solution.
- Hard times create leaders.
Despite, all these lessons, there’s one thing very true about Covid19 that it has changed the way we live, talk, meet, greet, and grief with people. Nobody knows either we’d get back to the pre-covid life again but we do miss the time when we enjoyed being with people without any fear.
I hope you enjoy reading this year-in-review about the pandemic for Pakistan. If you like it, please do share further.
Meanwhile, I’d love to know how the pandemic has changed your life?