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Should we consider online food deliveries rather than going to marketplaces?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic and if the recent situation is any indication, the novel virus is rapidly spreading in Pakistan also. The outbreak has resulted in a complete lockdown in Sindh imposed by the government since March 23rd, encouraging citizens to stay at home and practice social distancing. Almost all food delivery services across the provincehave also been suspended, as a result of which people are visiting supermarkets on a daily basis and instead of curbing it, this is increasing the risk of COVID-19.

Due to the lockdown the streets are deserted, offices and restaurants shut, with only grocery stores open. Many people have raised the issue on social media platforms by sharing videos and pictures of departmental stores and certain market places where large gatherings of people can be seen, all there to buy goods, since that is the only option available to them. As per the stats shared by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in USA, social distancing is considered when a person is remainsout of congregate settings, avoids mass gatherings and maintains distance of approximately 6 feet from others when possible. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case in Pakistan.

In the UK a similar lockdown was enforced where strict procedures were implied, especially when it came to daily shopping for essentials and food. As a social distancing practice, locals have therefore shifted towards online deliveries at home, where the chance of being exposed to the virus is minimal. With delivery platforms ensuring safety features involving frequent sanitization of the delivery person and the product, chances of COVID-19 are reduced hence, a similar concept can be easily adapted in Pakistan.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in Pakistan, services like foodpanda, other international restaurant franchises,  services such as Daraz instructed their workers to strictly follow health and safety protocols. Daraz and foodpanda introduced Contact Less payments for customers to for minimal human contact. While others, such as foodpanda Pakistan ensured health and safety of their customers, heroes and restaurants by distributing hand sanitizers to their heroes, monitoring their daily temperature and installing wash basins outside restaurants and rider hubs. Iaddition to this, they also added new features to their app that allowed customers to purchase foodpanda Hygiene Kit and the option for Contact Less Deliveries, similar to what China has done to fight COVID-19.

There has been a sudden
rise in cases, summing up to total of 426 until March 27th and with people gathering at supermarkets, the number is likely to increase. Making a Shift to licensed online delivery platforms seems like the wise decision at this point in time. It eliminates human contact and allows people to practice social distancing more conveniently. Online delivery hubs fall perfect under this category since they have already taken countless safety measures in the wake of coronavirus and encourage people to stay home hence, resuming their services would be the ideal approach.  

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