Evaluating the Effectiveness of Regional Lockdown Policies in the Containment of Covid-19: Evidence from Pakistan

To slow down the spread of Covid-19, administrative regions within Pakistan imposed complete and partial lockdown restrictions on socio-economic activities, religious congregations, and human movement. Here we examine the impact of regional lockdown strategies on Covid-19 outcomes. After conducting econometric analyses (Regression Discontinuity and Negative Binomial Regressions) on official data from the National Institute of Health (NIH) Pakistan, we find that strategies did not lead to a similar level of Covid-19 caseload (positive cases and deaths) in all regions. In terms of reduction in the overall caseload (positive cases and deaths), compared to no lockdown, complete and partial lockdown were effective in four regions: Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan (GB), Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). Contrarily, complete and partial lockdowns were ineffective in containing the virus in the Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) regions. A divided response of the government, a significant proportion of daily wagers, poor habitat conditions, religious gatherings, and public attitude towards the virus jointly contributed to the ineffectiveness of lockdowns in the three largest regions. The observed regional heterogeneity in the effectiveness of lockdowns advocates for careful use of lockdown strategies based on the political, demographic, socio-economic, and religious factors.
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