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Editorial: New SOPs’ practicality

Despite the novel coronavirus pandemic has put many issues on the back-burner, Afghanistan’s daily death rate is climbing and the total number of Covid-19 cases (advancing rapidly towards the 20,000 mark) continues to spike unabated. Over three hundred people have lost their lives to the virus so far, including some government authorities. The fallout of lockdown and quarantine has undoubtedly affected many aspects, particularly crippling the economy and the poor as people lost jobs and poverty increased. In a recent development, considering the danger of contagion still threatening people’s lives, the government has extended the lockdown for another three months by approving new Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for public and private institutions. The SOPs generally dictate that during the period, masks should be used in public places, two meters distance kept from each other, gatherings of more than ten people avoided, and elderly people prevented from leaving their homes, among others. Although the government’s steady approach to lockdown is laudable because Afghanistan’s crumbling health system is already overwhelmed by corona patients, the issue of the poor segment of our society shouldn’t be overlooked altogether. Second Vice President Sarwar Danish has stressed that in order to better implement the recently announced plan, the cooperation of all government institutions, the private sector and the citizens of the country is more necessary than ever. By these remarks, the government is, in fact, taking a hands-off approach to the pandemic in which citizens are left to protect themselves. The downside of such modus operandi is that the impoverished class of our society has no other choice to make ends meet. Most of them, if don’t earn their daily wages, have nothing to eat and thus they resort to violating such healthcare guidelines – and rightly so because they still believe corona might not be as deadly as starvation. Therefore, the government is well-advised to take care of the destitute people besides employing precautionary measures and restrictions. There has been millions of dollars aid promised and provided to Afghanistan to battle coronavirus by various international organizations and countries. Hence, if the government is true to its duty to serve the masses, it should channel all that aid directly to poor people at the earliest – and most crucially prevent the ominous embezzlement and corruption, a practice that the government has been tainted by since long. Only then would the new SOPs prove effective and beneficial; otherwise, the poor class of the society would continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic, as well as lockdown for another three months.

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