A Passenger’s Guide to Air Travel

August 12, 2020

….Hey!  Hold on!  I’m now a COVID expert!?  No but here are some practical tips for travelers to consider-

  • Wear the COVID N-95 or K-95 face mask on board;

(If you are really paranoid 😊, add a cloth or surgical mask over that)

  • Carry on board-
    • Wear mask continuously
      • Disposable surgical mask- (tie-on type- not behind-ear type)
      • Hand sanitizer & hand wipes
      • Hand moisturizer
      • Some paper disposable bags
  • Before initially sitting, use the hand wipes –
    • Wipe down both arm rests, seat cushion & back
      • Wipe down outside of overhead bin and latch
      • Wipe down the tray and TV if it is one of those seat-retractable ones
      • (If you are on a window seat) Wipe down side of the plane (where you would put your head to sleep) and window shutter
      • Use a fresh hand wipe to sanitize your hands and bin all the wipes into a paper bag and dispose in lavatory (see below)
      • Use moisturizer on hands
(Photo credit- IATA)
  • Going to the bathroom-
    • Carry hand wipes with you
      • Use one hand wipe to open the door, get inside and lock the door and wipe the lock and door latch
      • Use another hand wipe to wipe the lid of the disposable bin and and flushing mechanism/button
      • Wash hands with soap
      • After using the bathroom, use hand wipe or sanitizer for a final clean.
      • Moisturize hands
  • Continue wearing mask during entire trip
  • Whenever you walk around, go to the food galley, open the overhead bin, etc, on returning back to the seat, use hand sanitizer and moisturizer
  • Eating (my favorite experience on a plane! 😊)-
  • Why I’m suggesting using the tie-on type of face mask is so that you keep the top portion tied on and open the bottom two ties, allowing you to feed yourself (and drink) without removing the mask portion covering the nose
    • Use hand wipes to wipe down all cutlery (we use hand wipes to wipe down thermometers, so I presume it’s safe for cutlery too)
    • Wipe down the plastic and foil covers of the food and drink
    • EAT … DEVOUR … ENJOY! 😊
  • Enjoy the food … Enjoy the movie … Enjoy the flying experience … and most of all, Enjoy the sleep!

If you have any further suggestions, please do share.

BON VOYAGE!

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The Bad Eggs!

July 30, 2020

(photo credit- ar.pinterest.com)

COVID-19 struck and we did not lay off our staff or executives.  We did this openly, with our hearts in it, and fully mindful of the economic impact to our family & group.

Our reasoning … where will these people go, how will they live, eat, buy medicines – especially our Associates – as there’s no social network or institutionalized setup to support them.  It was (and is) our responsibility to look after them and their family.

We didn’t do this expecting anything in return – because that’s not what “helping” is about.

Trust & a helping hand is given implicitly – one should not do charity expecting anything in return. 

Little did we know, there always are the bad eggs … the back stabbers … those few people who would take advantage of this good will ☹ … and “stab the hand that feeds him”! 

After several months of this closed period, we decided to call back team members in batches from their homes & villages so as to continue – if nothing else – training programs so that people remain more productive.

What excuses did we get when we started …

  • Some pretend to be ill and don’t submitting any medical proof so as to skip training;
  • For some, they or their “dependant” were ill – for the last 2 months! – and so could not attend the job;
  • Some responded that they are out of the respective city or in another province and due to Covid they can’t get transport … (hmmm, last I remember, Inter-province and Inter-city transport started before last Eid);
  • This last one is classic – “schedule our duty for a continuous 2-3 weeks and then let us go back to our village”!  So, not only do we pay them their salary but, it now seems, they will even schedule their own work hours while on our payroll.  I’d like a job like that 😊!

My point is, why do we give our trust to others, our hearts to others, our energy and resources for others, only for these “others” to stab us in the back?

It’s sad actually …

it does shake the trust we put in humanity and in our team members

(photo credit- english-the-easy-way.com)

Is COVID, Thanos’ Snap?

(…and Yet Further Tirades of a Layman [COVID] – 4)

June 12, 2020

(Do you follow Marvel Cinematic Universe?)

(Photo credit- https://images.app.goo.gl/ceGmi8qAB9ZarsTbA)

With one snap of his fingers, Thanos eliminates an arbitrary 50% of the world’s population; according to him it was to correct Nature’s imbalance … he was “trying to save the universe from itself”. 

Yeah, right!!!!

Compared to any other living being on Earth & the seas, humans’ capacity to harm & kill each other, and exploit & destroy the world’s resources, is unlimited.

Is the Coronavirus pandemic nature’s way of correcting our exploitation of the World?

               Is the Coronavirus pandemic a lesson to humans about the value of Life?

               Is the Coronavirus pandemic here to give mankind a taste of its own Medicine?

Whatever the reasons, we need to sit up, learn and rectify our ways.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe this is going to happen in this lifetime!  As I said, our capacity to harm others gets in the way of all the good that we, as a human “community”, can potentially do for each other.

In spite of this global pandemic, which continues to rise, these last four months have shown that we continue with strife, war and conflict; instead of banding together as one community regardless of nationality, creed, caste, religion, colour, gender to solve this threat.

In spite of this global pandemic, most countries continue to approach this threat with internal strife, no unified policy and no cohesiveness.

In spite of this global pandemic, politics and “big” business still comes in the way of human life and morals.

Few countries, like New Zealand, seem to have overcome these obstacles & been successful …

For others, is “Thanos’ Snap” imminent?

(Photo credit- https://images.app.goo.gl/92txtDavR37rkGtW6)

“Lockdown or Not to Lockdown – That Is The Question”

(Further Harangues of a Layman [COVID]- 3)

(photo credit- webmd.com)

May 30, 2020

(This is a long article)

Since my last “diatribe” on this topic (https://dinshawavari.com/2020/04/19/imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery-further-ramblings-of-a-layman-covid-2/), we have opened a lot of our lockdown sectors, retail outlets, business, etc. 

Now comes the question- has lockdown helped or not.

Personally I believe that lockdown was an important strategy at the outset of this pandemic- however, it should have been all encompassing and stricter.  Our businesses have been closed for last two months instead of 2-3 weeks – and that is due to a “hybrid” system instead of “total” lockdown.

However, dynamics have changed.  Two months without income cannot sustain any economic band of society- it’s just not possible.  Giving credit where it’s due – to the State Bank and the Federal Government for supporting companies and businesses – is important but it isn’t enough for someone to feed 4-5 mouths on a daily basis in a population of 250 Million!

(1) Part of the problem lies in partisan politics. 

Australia, with its diverse political structure and strong provincial autonomy, banded together like no other in this crisis.  Partisan politics were set aside for a country-specific policy.  Consensus-based decision making was the norm.  The PM and the coordination committee with representatives of all provinces made JOINT decisions.  This is not so in Pakistan!

(2) As long as citizens of a country do not cooperate with the government, no amount of the “stick” or “carrot” will work.  The administration can beat their head against the wall creating SOPs but if in our own heart we don’t follow them, then it’s as good as a failed policy.

Sweden’s “partial lockdown” system worked due to the Swedish people’s sense of responsibility in social distancing.  They took it upon themselves to ensure they followed the government’s policies in return for a more open society.  This is not so in Pakistan!

(3) Successful countries have followed the advice of scientists and doctors.  Government policies, politics, [maybe] some personal freedoms have been set aside to listen to, and implement, actions recommended by “virus experts”.

Here again, Australia, Korea, New Zealand, etc followed what experts in this field advised them.  It may have run contrary to their own thinking or policy but they listened to people who knew what they were talking about.  This is not so in Pakistan! 

(4) I do not support pollution or lack of hygiene & sanitation!  However, can a fair case be made that in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, while there is a high Corona Virus count, the death rate [to overall COVID cases] ratio is not as high as in the developed world?  Why?

Let’s look it like this- the pollution, smog, vehicular emissions, sewerage, slums, lack of sanitation, etc in the general populace is the “norm” unfortunately; food is prepared over open sewages; generations are born and die in slums in the center of our cities; 50% of the population drink polluted tap water directly; flies are our regular lunch & dinner dates; mosquitos thrive on our blood … whose immunity will NOT be built?  These are the living standards in Pakistan!  However, this should not be the case in Pakistan!

All these factors and more – cash economy, daily wagers, population density, public transport, education levels, etc – play their share on a macro basis in determining whether to lockdown a country or not.  We lack in so many of these areas that I do not believe Pakistan can afford to lockdown the country further. 

Smarter policing is required – political partisanship has to be shunned – geographical and economic aspects should be accounted for – and based on these aspects an all-inclusive, sustained policy be devised.

Can Pakistan please band together!?

(photo credit- sciencemag.com)

No Two States are “Cut From The Same Cloth”- (Yet More Ramblings of a Layman [COVID]-3)

May 2, 2020

To arbitrarily attack the World Health Organization that it “flip flops” is unfair. 

As WHO puts it- “What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of its citizens to implement self-distancing and self-regulate” (https://nypost.com/2020/04/29/who-lauds-sweden-as-model-for-resisting-coronavirus-lockdown/).   Besides this, Sweden has issued rules for social distancing and encouraging working from home- they haven’t arbitrarily opened up their society.

While that strategy seems to work for Sweden, Australia & New Zealand’s strategy of lockdown has worked for them (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/world/australia/new-zealand-coronavirus.html).

So, WHO’s statement on Sweden’s strategy should not be taken out of context.

Practically speaking, none of us alive today have EVER faced a pandemic like this in our lifetime.  Nations, leaders, scientists are all feeling the waters, testing strategies, changing guidelines…there’s nothing wrong with that.  None of us will get it right.  We will falter and that’s where our leaders & scientists have to learn, amend strategies and move on.

Philosophically speaking, I believe we are being tested so that we are ready for the real disease yet to come!

Even the most educated of us do not follow guidelines and rules laid out by our governments, so how can we be trusted (unlike the Swedes) to follow protocols a government would lay down similar to Sweden’s? 

The concept of “Herd Immunity” (first time I ever heard of it!) is a practical one- and I truly believe that countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh are ahead of the game as far as this immunity is concerned due to the environment our people live in.  However, like all strategies, in my mind, it would be incorrect to practice herd immunity willy-nilly.  WHO is also learning through this pandemic and it’s a thankless task with 7 Billion eyes on them, so let’s not be too hasty in passing judgement.  A combination of face mask, social distancing, contact tracing & “smart”, geographic lockdown is the correct way to go.

Who are we not to give WHO a chance!?

A Layman’s Thoughts on Mitigation Strategies [COVID]

April 7, 2020

(This is a long article)

Pakistan does not have the resources to sustain a lengthy closure yet we can’t all come out “dancing on the streets”.

However, I feel a four-pronged action is now the order of the day- continue with Coronavirus mitigation, restart limited commerce getting people back to work, the Government works on helping affected companies and uses funds to aid the unemployed (through registered NGOs).

The views in this Paper are personal and formed with a combination of thoughts from family members, inhouse executives and a series of publications on incentives being created by European governments on COVID-19 mitigation (some bibliography at the end).

COVID MITIGATION

  1. Government contracts local, reputed medical manufacturers to urgently manufacture N-95 masks for entire population.
  2. Isolate areas of city/towns where virus is dense and lock off those areas.
  3. Increase random testing.
  4. All “at-risk” people (demographics by age, prior respiratory problems like pneumonia, heart victims, etc) to mandatorily stay at home.
  5. Guarantee access to COVID testing & care at no cost – no matter a person’s employment status
  6. Make it mandatory for populace wear the N-95 facemasks when out of the house, with stiff, on-the-spot penalties for contravention.
  7. Any COVID family member to be isolated – for mental satisfaction, can stay in their own house but with completely separate facilities, etc otherwise to go to govt mandated facility.  If former, then no contact between family members.
  8. Affected people must inform authorities of their condition, whereabouts – and authorities will keep check on them
  9. Sanitize & disinfect all public areas (be it transport, bus stops, hand rails, etc)
  10. Ensure supply on controlled prices of essential commodities, food items & medicines through utility stores & other channels; and ensure hoarding and price gouging does not take place.
  11. Pass on more benefit of int’l oil price reduction to public while government retains a portion to be used for the poor, daily wagers and unemployed during this crisis
  12. Duty free import for items NOT being locally manufactured- especially medical supplies.

RESTART COMMERCE

  1. Restart industrial activity –
    1. However, only those companies registered with the SECP and Federal &/or provincial revenue boards AND are regular tax assessees would be allowed this facility.
    1. Only those companies NOT directly in contagion areas/zones.
  2. Responsibility of company directors/owners –
    1. Companies to ensure their employees are kept on the payroll- even if on [paid] leave – from the time of COVID downturn.
    1. All normal staff benefits (especially health) to continue.
    1. Daily wagers who are part of company operations would also continue as if no crisis had continued, even if the work for which they were casually employed has finished.
    1. Worker conditions, hygiene & sanitation as per COVID guidelines.
    1. Where possible, these companies to have labour stay on premises to reduce contact with outside world.
    1. ALL workers to wear masks, disposable gloves & use hand sanitizer in their work areas.
    1. When leaving work areas, dispose gloves, use hand sanitizer but keep wearing mask.
    1. Food shifts to be ensured to have minimal people together for meals
    1. All utensils to be cleaned with WHO-recommended cleaners- all surfaces, chairs, etc between food shifts too
    1. All work places, machines, toilets, etc to be regularly sanitized & disinfected.
    1. Temperature reading 3 times for 100% of staff in each shift.
    1. Immediately isolation & care of sick workers.
  3. Public space access – eg malls, offices, hotels, restaurants, etc- hands to be sanitized and guests to be given disposable gloves & face masks.
  4. Resume delivery services with delivery person using gloves & mask; and sanitizing the delivered items in front of recipient before handing it over.

GOV’T BAILOUT OF COMPANIES

By doing the below actions, Gov’t will help companies absorb the costs and shocks of this crisis, yet not give direct cash injection, keep people employed (even if at home) and restart economic activity.

  1. In return Gov’t will assist such companies subsidize their operations & costs from beginning February 2020 to end August 2020.
    1. In the first phase, would only apply to those companies which are directly affected by this crisis resulting in over 70% of their income being affected- and can be proved and established with documentation.
    1. Would only apply to companies registered with the SECP and Federal &/or provincial revenue boards AND are regular tax assessees.
    1. Any misuse & contravention of this bailout by companies would be a criminal action under CrPC.
    1. Specified registered private audit firms would audit revenue-side of each company applying for this bailout prior to bailout facilities.
  2. Following are the bailout suggestions-
    1. Exemption from all statutory taxes, duties & fees (federal, provincial, excise, vend).
    1. Exemption from all labour-related taxes, fees & cess.
    1. Exemption from Provident fund contribution from both parties.
    1. Exemption on all TAXES on UTILITIES for period of shutdown (and all such billing on actual-reading basis and not average-basis).
    1. Heavily subsidized utility costs- electricity, gas, water & sewerage.
    1. Drastic reduction in markup rates by slashing KIBOR to 2%.
    1. Exemption from sales tax.  If full exemption cannot be given, exempt period of COVID crisis and defer the payment of sales for the balance period.
    1. Lifting of restrictions on Input Tax claims.
    1. Defer the payments of supplier & employee withholding taxes.
    1. Defer the payment of Advance Tax.
    1. Easy loans to such companies – for which SBP regulations will not apply and repayment will be over 10 years, with a two-year moratorium.
    1. Moratorium for existing commercial loans on such companies by one year.

AID THE UNEMPLOYED

By working with & through registered NGOs, the government can use cash incentives directly for other affected workers directly, the underprivileged & families who are not covered by above companies.

  1. Food rations to poor people and out of work families to be conducted by & through REGISTERED NGOs only- like Rotary clubs, etc. 
    1. Government will provide the food rations to said NGOs but distribution will be NGOs responsibility.
      1. This will ensure that food is fairly and honestly distributed. 
      1. Each NGO can be responsible for a certain geographic area and monitor/record said people through their CNIC. 
      1. Such data to be provided by NGOs to provincial gov’t who in turn will cross check it with NADRA database.
    1. This will be the starting point for the creation of an official unemployment database too.

The above will ensure government resources and personnel are better redirected to controlling & curing actual COVID cases in known contagion areas.

“…and people who keep their jobs ‘are less unhappy and shocked [..]

They are less likely to dramatically cut their consumption.

That limits the overall economic damage.  

When social distancing ends, millions of employer-employee

relationships will have been destroyed,

slowing down the recovery [..].

(REFERENCES-

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/business/france-coronavirus-unemployment.html

2. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/opinion/coronavirus-economy-saez-zucman.html