Every pandemic on this great scale should be considered a wake up call for humanity to turn towards its Creator. In this regard, the Promised Messiah (aa) states:
“No calamity visits the earth until there is a command from heaven, and no affliction is alleviated until mercy descends from heaven.” (Noah’s Ark,p.22)
However, in our limited understanding and knowledge, we don’t know if this is a punishment or not. So we should not compare this pandemic with the plague or any other calamity which was prophesied or occurred during the time of the Promised Messiah (as).
On such occasions, the only response of a believer should be to consider it a warning/wake up call and turn to his Creator with utmost humility more than ever before rather than finding out if it’s a punishment or not.
This was the practice of the Holy Prophet (sa) as well, whenever he would see any sign of even a small calamity he would consider it a warning from God.
Hazrat `Aisha said If the Prophet (ﷺ) saw a cloud In the sky, he would walk to and fro in agitation, go out and come in, and the color of his face would change, and if it rained, he would feel relaxed. Hazrat `Aisha knew that state of his. So the Prophet (ﷺ) said to her: I don’t know (am afraid), it may be similar to what happened to some people referred to in the Holy Qur’an in the following Verse: — “Then when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said, ‘This is a cloud bringing us rain!’ Nay, but, it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened, a wind wherein is severe torment.” (Bukhari:3206)
Syedna Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aa) highlighted this point in his second-last Friday sermon and stated: “Allah the Almighty knows best to what extent this epidemic will spread and what He has decreed. However, if this virus has emerged owing to the Divine wrath of God…then one ought to turn towards God Almighty more than ever before to be safeguarded from these.” (Friday Sermon March 6th, 2020)