The government announced a one-week lockdown across the country from 14 April to tackle the second wave of coronavirus, and has extended it by one more week on 21 April until 28 April. However, steps were taken to restrict movement from 5 April. Although offices and factories are open, for which a complete lockdown is not possible, movement of people has been restricted.

As a result, it has been possible to avoid risky levels of physical contact, albeit temporarily. Some of these benefits are already evident. Both infection and death rates have begun to decline. The number of people infected daily went down from 7,000 to about 4,000 now.

In other words, it is clear that if we can control public gatherings for a few more days in this way, the pandemic situation will improve further- both infection and death will be reduced. For that, everyone has to make every effort to ensure the lockdown announced till 28 April is most successful. Health rules such as not leaving home unless absolutely necessary, wearing masks at workplaces, maintaining physical distance, washing hands frequently and using sanitisers should be strictly followed.

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The situation will improve if we can all make this hygiene regimen a part of our daily lives. Especially, the use of masks by everyone needs to be emphasized. Studies in different countries have shown that coronavirus infections are much lower among people who wear masks regularly. Use of masks widely is a major factor in the success of countries like South Korea and Vietnam in preventing coronavirus transmission.

If the situation gets better by 28 April, public transport and all kinds of shops will reopen. As Eid-ul-Fitr comes nearer, there is also pressure from traders to open shops before it. Experts were quoted in the media a few days ago as saying that the second wave of coronavirus infections was most prevalent among people traveling to the market and using public transport. So if these are open again after the lockdown, the risk of infection may increase again.

In order to prevent this, special importance should be given to wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance. Business organisations and various shopping malls should take measures to enforce hygiene rules while shopping in malls. Complacency, as if the crisis is over as the lockdown has been lifted, should not be tolerated in any way. Everybody has to realise that the importance of adhering to hygiene rules will not diminish, rather will increase as the crowds increase.

Poor people have been living in misery due to the week-long lockdown. Many face food shortage. Those who have to survive on their daily earnings will have to go through this situation until 28 April. Therefore, it is very important to provide them with cash assistance so that they can buy food and survive. Apart from the government, individuals, organisations and institutions from the private sector should come forward, too.

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