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Bangladesh celebrates Eid-ul-Azha amid calls for caution as pandemic gloom deepens

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2021-07-21 03:27:50 BdST

Muslims in Bangladesh celebrate another Eid-ul-Azha amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, with a record rise in the number of patients prompting calls for caution.

Festivities have begun in the morning through the sacrifice of animals after congregations against a backdrop of nearly 160,000 active coronavirus cases. The number of such patients may be much higher as many do not get tested.

There will be no festivities in the families who lost their loved ones to the COVID-19 on the eve of Eid, or those who have their infected relatives fighting for their lives at home or in hospital.

“We are not thinking about the Eid, let alone sacrificing animals,” said Arshadul Haque, a former Dhaka University student whose father was undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar.

“What Eid! We don’t have anything to celebrate. The only thing on our mind is when we will get be free of this crisis,” said Mohammad Shajahan from Shariatpur who was caring for his sister at Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s coronavirus unit.  

As the outbreak surged at a record pace with more than 200 deaths and 10,000 cases almost every day in July despite a harsh lockdown in the first two weeks, experts have called for an extension of the restrictions. But the government decided to allow the celebrations until Jul 23 morning, urging the people to be wise to the danger.

President Abdul Hamid in a message wished everyone a happy Eid and advised them to observe the occasion with caution by adhering to proper hygiene rules and practising physical distancing.

He also urged all to stand by the people affected by the pandemic with inspiration from the Eid-ul-Azha spirit of restraint and sacrifice.

Although the experts and the authorities urged the people to strictly follow the coronavirus health protocol to reduce the risk of infection, most of them appear to care a fig about their own and their families’ health.

An exodus of people wearing no mask and maintaining no social distancing to return to their home villages or towns from the cities marked the run-up to the festival, raising fear of a larger outbreak.

Brig Gen Nazmul Haque, the director of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, fears that the situation in Bangladesh may worsen like those of India or Indonesia. “It can’t be said that we won’t see 800 to 1,000 deaths daily in August or September. We're afraid to say this. But it appears that this is going to happen.” 

The government, however, hopes that the situation will improve with the harsh restrictions after Eid.

“We've been fighting the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year now. And in this fight, we have lost many loved ones. I would like to remember them today and seek the salvation of their souls," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a video message.

"But we have to win this battle and we will.”