Stories about COVID-19

Covid-19 and the looming food crisis

A potential risk posed by the Covid-19 pandemic is rising food insecurity and its potentially debilitating impact on local and global food systems, especially in developing countries. According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), nearly 265 million people could possibly have to face acute food insecurity, as opposed to 135 million people prior to the advent of the pandemic, by the end of 2020. Even before the pandemic, a worldwide food-price spike was expected to occur. According to the United Nations (UN), an unprecedented humanitarian crisis of “biblical proportions” may result from Covid-19 and the global fear ...

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The Covid-19 pandemic: Education response for Sindh

Around 6.7 million children were out of school in Sindh even before the pandemic brought its carnage to Pakistan. The province was already in a learning crisis and the ongoing pandemic will further strain the education system while negatively impact learning outcomes. It is undeniable that it was the need of the hour to shut down educational institutes, as keeping them open would further exacerbate the ongoing health crisis. But now as educational institutions gear up to open on July 15, the situation is calling for difficult decisions yet again. Policymakers are faced with a strange dilemma, where when they do ...

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Sorry Kipling, but we are not your burden

What was once hailed as a tribute or even a sort of egging on of imperialism by Rudyard Kipling in his poem of colonial days, “The White Man’s Burden” is now something that can barely be acknowledged as a distant truth. The coronavirus, it seems, has exposed all the nations for what they are truly worth and it has shattered the delusions of many. Is this the burden and duty, Kipling was talking about? Are their sons ready now to come out of their homes on exile, to want in heavy harness and to teach the sullen half devil ...

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The toll Covid-19 is taking on the mental health of medical personnel

Coronavirus is a silent demon hunting down not only the physical well-being of healthcare workers but also their mental health. The pandemic is drastically impacting the work load of those in the medical field and simultaneously leading to a spectrum of adverse psychological effects on several medical personnel working in a clinical setting. Members of the healthcare workforce are our first and last line of defence against this pandemic, and it is just as important to account for their psychological well-being as it is to ensure that they are provided with medical equipment and the necessary protective gear. In this regard, we can learn many lessons ...

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How will Covid-19 impact global poverty levels?

Since the advent of Covid-19 last December, the global death toll has surpassed the 300,000 mark, with this estimate continuing to rise with the passage of time. However, the final toll of individuals who will be subjected to the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic will far outstrip the number of deaths caused by the virus itself. In its wake, this virus leaves behind people suffering from massive hunger, poverty, disease and violence, ramifications which the earlier number is not able to adequately capture. According to World Bank estimates, Covid-19 is likely to cause the first increase in global poverty ...

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How Covid-19 exposed the shortcomings of Pakistan’s scientific community

What was the global and national scientific response? Scientists and countless labs across the globe have been working day and night to explore preventive and therapeutic options to combat coronavirus, and its genome was sequenced in a matter of days. Epidemiologists, microbiologists, clinicians, and experts from many other fields were brought together to work out the mode of transmission and to provide public-safety guidelines. With regards to Pakistan, universities tasked their faculties and students with designing innovative solutions to help the government tackle Covid-19. We have witnessed success in the development of testing kits from a couple of universities, and some smart alternatives were presented in the ...

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The case for online courts in Pakistan

The novel coronavirus has crippled governments all over the world, due to which states and leaders are struggling to deal with rising unemployment, burgeoning debt and broken economies. However, what begs consideration is the court system and the access to justice in wake of these uncertain times. In March 2020, orders were passed by the High Courts in Pakistan to grant bail to prisoners undergoing trial or those who were sick or infirm. This order was subsequently overturned on March 30th by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed. In its judgment, the Supreme Court issued orders for the ...

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The plight of India’s migrant workers

The decision by the Indian government to potentially extend the nationwide lockdown in order to contain the pandemic also highlights the urgent need to look after the inter-state migrants; since migrant labourers have been among the worst affected due to the lockdown. Their arduous journey back to to their home states without the provision of adequate transport facilities not only exposes them to the threat of Covid-19 but also burdens their meager financial resources. Ironically, this is happening in a country which, according to the constitution, is termed a “welfare state”. To help facilitate the movement of these migrant labourers some states in ...

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Reimagining schools as learning organisations

Any organisation, to be sustainable and successful, needs to be a ‘learning organisation’, especially in the face of the evolving challenges of the 21st century. Many well-meaning school leaders think that converting schools into learning organisations only depends on a clear vision, giving teachers the right incentives, and providing lots of training. These are essential but we need a lot more to make that transition, as eloquently presented in The Harvard Business Review by David A Garvin, Amy C Edmondson and Francesca Gino in their article ‘Is Yours a Learning Organization?’ There are three basic building blocks that contribute to making ...

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Caught between clerics and coronavirus

On May 7th, the government of Pakistan decided not to revise its earlier decision from April 18th, whereby the government allowed the re-opening of mosques after thorough negotiations between the state and the country’s top clerics. With a lengthy 20-point standard operating procedure (SOP) agreed upon by the government and Pakistan’s clerics, the latter seem to have got their way, again. This is a concerning development given the rampant spread of Covid-19 across Pakistan. While the SOPs agreed upon require mosques to follow 20 procedures (including maintaining a six-feet distance between worshippers, barring the entry of the ill and the ...

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