How to securitize the threat of Coronavirus in Pakistan?

By Atique ur Rehman

Pakistan is one of the neighbouring countries to China which is the most threatened due to outbreak of Coronona virus in China not because of its proximity rather due to presence of a large number of Chinese people working on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project and heavy trade inflow from China to Pakistan.

Since outbreak of virus on January 9, 2020, reportedly 6,061 cases have been reported confirmed patients with 132 deaths in 15 provinces of China.

It is serious threat in the neighbourhood which needs to be securitized by the state of Pakistan. It is the type of threat which require immediate measures beyond day to day political activity due to its lethality.

Government must take appropriate measure to effectively control its entry and spread in the country and also diagnosis facility and treatment on urgent basis.

Immediate measure could be safety precautions and awareness through media and social media and to motivate the public not to panic.

Fatality rate of infected persons have been reported 2.2%. Virus orginated from Wuhan, Hubei province of China which is in western part of the country. This virus is found in fresh slaughtered animals. All those infected earlier were mostly worker or visited the Huanan seafood market in the city.

A threat is only a threat if it has been accepted by people. An awareness campaign can only raise the level among masses. Government must act to securitize the threat through political communication.

Media is a mediator of speech act. However, media can also play its role as an actor through public service message.

Pakistan has strong military and trade relations with China which facilitate movements of thousands of citizens across the border either by air or road.

Thousands of Chinese are working on various development projects in the country. They must have gone home on yearly event and will return back soon. Spread of Coronavirus has happened at a time when China was nearing the yearly celebration for Lunar year. Thousands of people were in transit on railway stations and airports. The event however has effected the celebrations and turned into a national emergency and global alarm.

The spread of virus has been confirmed outside China also in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, US, and Vietnam. Human to Human transfer of virus has been confirmed by China’s National Health Commission.

The ‘nCoV-2019’ or novel coronavirus-2019 is not new. The SARS epidemic of 2002-3 in China was due to virus of similar specie. How serious is this virus is? yet not clear.

This virus has transmitted from Bat to human and now it is getting its path from human to human. Outbreak of such viruses is not unique.

Modern history of virus outbreaks

 

Historically there have been outbreak of Machupo in Bolivia, 1961, Marburg virus in Germany in 1967, Ebola virus in Zaire and Sudan in 1976, H.I.V recognized in New York and California in 1981, bird flu in Hong Kong in 1997, Nipah virus in Malaysia in 1998, coronavirus series of SARS in China, 2002-3 and MERS in Saudi Arabia in2012. Ebola virus erupted again in West Africa in 2014.

Head of China’s disease and treatment laboratory has indicated that it will take three months to get out a vaccine for the corona virus. It is long time to effectively block the spread of disease. There is not facility for diagnosis and treatment of this virus in Pakistan which demands more stringent measures at airports to check the entry of all passengers who are arriving from China and other affected countries particularly south east Asian countries. US has evacuated its citizens from China as a precautionary measure to stop it outbreak in America. Germany has confirmed one human transmission oh Wuhan virus. One patient has been confirmed in PIMS hospital, Islamabad.

Related News:No confirmed case of coronavirus in Pakistan: Dr Zafar Mirza

 

Dr Zafar, Advisor to PM in Pakistan has confirmed that four Pakistani students have been affected. It is also pertinent to mention that over 28,000 Pakistani students are at the moment studying in various Chinese universities.

Public should also realise that if any of their relative or someone else have arrived and came in contact with them, they must report such cases to nearest hospitals. People in old age are most susceptible to this virus due to less immunity against viral attacks.