People request the government to abolish 8% tax on COVID-19 testing kits as crisis worsen

People are appealing the government to abolish tax on COVID-19 testing kits in private laboratories.

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As COVID-19 panic grips Pakistan as the number of cases dramatically surge, the people are appealing to the government to abolish tax on testing kits. Due to the limited capacity of the public health sector, people have no other choice than to refer to private testings laboratories.

However, despite the health emergency in Pakistan, the government is still receiving an 8% tax on COVID-19 testing kits in private laboratories. Just like the governments worldwide have announced significant relief for people, it is crucial for Pakistan to take timely measures and facilitate the affected as well.

As the curve escalates in Pakistan, a renowned economist Atif Mian has suggested some measures to contain the outbreak. Atif says that the following steps need to be taken before the situation goes out of hand:

  • National lockdown: Shut down all non-essential activities, and gatherings of all sorts (social or otherwise) to minimize contagion. This act will buy you the essential time to build critical capacities and plans.
  • Build testing and relevant health care capacity on a war footing: Train health workers for contact tracing, re-purpose buildings for recovery wards, etc. Bring all the resources to bear on this. It is testing and certainty of safety that will allow the country to return to normalcy.
  • Essential supply chains must keep flowing: food, medicine, logistics, etc. Call in the military to help.
  • Massively increase social protection programs (like BISP), get the private sector, and NGOs involved in protecting the most vulnerable – this should be a national call.
  • The continuous testing and contact: Tracing will tell you when and where you can start easing up to bring the economy towards normalcy. Thousands, perhaps millions, of lives depend on it.

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