Virus lockdown must be strict, experts say as people worry about livelihood

  • Sabikunnahar Lipi and Rasel Sarker, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-04-11 03:58:54 BdST

The government announcement of a complete seven-day lockdown from Wednesday to put the brakes on the spiralling coronavirus infections has left people worried as it threatens their livelihoods.

Moreover, public health experts say that a weeklong lockdown is not going to help much in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases.

People must follow the health rules strictly, the experts say.

An ongoing lax lockdown, which is to end on Sunday night, appears to be failing to bring expected results with people largely violating the rules.

“People will go out in a festive mood when the [new] lockdown ends after seven days,” said Professor Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the national technical advisory committee on COVID-19.   

'Mahbub', a resident of Hemayetpur in Savar, walks to cross the Amin Bazar Bridge after seeing a doctor at BSMMU on Saturday Apr 10, 2021 as buses are banned from entering or leaving the cities. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

The former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University advised using the army, if necessary, along with the law-enforcing agencies to make people follow the general health rules for coronavirus -- such as wearing masks and keeping physical distancing.

Be-Nazir Ahmed, a former director at the Directorate General of Health Services, thinks the government lacks preparations for the lockdown.

“Massive preparations are required when you want to make 170 million people stay at home for seven days. A huge number of people need to be involved in the process,” he said.

The preparations may include relocation of the markets to the streets and open spaces with gaps between shops and demarcation to ensure physical distancing, according to him.

Gurucharan Sarker, a resident of Dhaka's Meradia, had undergone treatment at a private hospital in Banasree for the last three days after contracting the coronavirus. He was moved to Mugda General Hospital after his condition deteriorated on Saturday, Apr 10, 2021. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

Gurucharan Sarker, a resident of Dhaka's Meradia, had undergone treatment at a private hospital in Banasree for the last three days after contracting the coronavirus. He was moved to Mugda General Hospital after his condition deteriorated on Saturday, Apr 10, 2021. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

He also believes the government should provide the low-income people, especially the ones who live from hand to mouth, with cash intensive to encourage them to follow the rules after enlisting them.

“We should have made a list by now,” he said, referring to the problems the government faced during last year’s 66-day lockdown.

Be-Nazir also suggested the formation of hundreds of teams to ensure the isolation of patients and stop the spread of the coronavirus among family members in Dhaka, where the disease is spreading at an alarming rate. 

He does not think there will be visible progress from a seven-day lockdown. A 14-day lockdown would be better and the outcome would be great if it can be extended further, he said.

WHAT PEOPLE THINK

People from a plethora of professions and social classes, who are already struggling to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic, said a complete lockdown will put them under huge financial strains.

Dewan Aminul Islam Shaheen, president of Dhaka New Market Traders Association, said many of them took loans or used their savings to buy goods for sale ahead of Pahela Baishakh, Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr.

People wait in queues outside Dhaka’s Mugda General Hospital for COVID-19 tests on Saturday, Apr 10, 2021. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

They thought about making up the losses they suffered in the shopping seasons during last year’s lockdown and the sale was also good during Shab-e-Barat recently, he said.

“Then this lockdown announcement ruined everything. Now a complete lockdown is coming. It will put us in great danger,” said the traders’ leader, demanding government intensive to save them.  

Traffic was heavy in Dhaka's New Market area despite an ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown in the country, Apr 9, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

Traffic was heavy in Dhaka's New Market area despite an ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown in the country, Apr 9, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

Mohammad Kamrul Hasan Babu, president of Gausia Shop Owners Association, said the leaders of the traders’ associations would sit to decide what they can do.

KM Kader, a contractor, said he accepts the lockdown decision given the surging coronavirus cases, but the government must think about the people living on the fringes.

Khandaker Asaduzzaman, a young entrepreneur, however, thinks that the government needs more coordinated efforts to save lives and livelihoods.

“We, the young entrepreneurs, are already devastated. Becoming a businessman will be a curse if lockdown continues; people will seek to get jobs instead of doing business,” he said. 

People crowding Dhaka's New Market area after the government decided to allow stores and shopping malls to remain open during the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown, subject to compliance with

People crowding Dhaka's New Market area after the government decided to allow stores and shopping malls to remain open during the ongoing coronavirus-induced lockdown, subject to compliance with "strict health rules", Apr 9, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

“What will we eat if we have no work in the lockdown?” asked ‘Anwar’, a transport worker.

“We will starve to death,” added Abul Hossain, a rickshaw-puller.