Test lockdowns yield mixed results

Ershad Kamol | Published: 00:42, Jul 08,2020


The execution of lockdown did not give expected results in the areas where COVID-19 patients were not properly isolated, public movement could not be restricted and required services were not provided to the locals.

The results of the 21-day lockdown in four areas of Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Narshandi showed that the number of COVID-19 cases increased in Kaliganj of Gazipur and remained constant in the capital’s Purba Rajabazar, areas where the coronavirus- infected people were not isolated properly and people could not be kept inside their residences.

On the other hand, according to the relevant upazila nirbahi offices and the district civil surgeon offices, the number of COVID-19 patients drastically decreased in Rupganj union of Narayanganj and Madhobdi of Narshingdi after the lockdown.

New Age did not get any official statement from Abul Kalam Azad, the director general of the Directorate General of Health Services, who ordered the lockdown in those areas last month as test cases for enforcing lockdown in the 68 red zones across the country.

No statement could also be obtained from Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research director Meerjady Sabrina Flora who last week submitted the monitoring report to the DGHS chief.

But Rupganj UNO Mumtaj Begum on Tuesday told New Age that the number of COVID-19 patients dropped from 81 to eight after the enforcement of lockdown in Rupganj union.

With the help of different agencies and public representatives, she claimed, the coronavirus-infected people were isolated properly since when the lockdown was enforced on June 11.

‘We did not allow anybody to get out of their houses in the union that has over one lakh population while we provided the people with the provisions and medicine services they required,’ she said.

Narsingdi Sadar UNO Taslima Akhter said that the number of COVID-19 patients dropped from 18 to three in two wards of Madhabdi municipality.

‘Before the execution of the lockdown on June 10, we made a database covering every family of the 33,733-strong population in the area and attached one volunteer to each family,’ she claimed.

Gazipur’s Kaliganj UNO Shibly Sadique said that the number of coronavirus- infected people in the three wards of Kaliganj municipality was 18 before the lockdown was enforced on June 13 but the number rocketed to 47 after 21 days of lockdown.

He claimed that the number might have increased for screening all the estimated 24,000 population in the area.

He, however, admitted that people in the area were allowed to go and work outside maintaining social distancing in the semi-industrial area.

Local resident Rezaul Sarkar said that workers of the five factories located in and around the three wards continued attending their work, small enterprises operated and shop keepers and traders carried on their businesses during the lockdown.

Dhaka North city mayor Atiqul Islam on July 1 said that the lockdown on the 27 buildings of Purba Rajabazar would continue as each of the buildings had at least one COVID-19 patient after the 21-day lockdown.

Before the lockdown on June 10, 31 COVID-19 patients were there in the area of an estimated 50,000 people.

‘The number of infections could not be taken down to zero as infected people refused to go to the isolation centre and they might not have obeyed the home isolation guidelines too,’ Atiqul explained.

But locals said that lockdown was not strictly enforced and some people in the area also created troubles intentionally.

Dhaka South City mayor Sheikh Fazle Nur Tapos, while announcing the 21-day lockdown on the five streets of Wari on July 4 as the DGHS’ fifth test case, claimed that the undesirable experiences of Purba Rajabazar would be analysed and taken into account while enforcing further lockdowns.

DSCC ward councilor Ahmed Imtiaz Mannafi, however, said that they could not take any COVID-19 patient to the isolation centre or test their family members and neighbours while the DGHS supplied them with the addresses of 46 patients.

Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad president Professor Iqbal Arsalan viewed that enforcing small-scale lockdowns would yield no result.

‘Increasing the number of test labs and enforcing lockdown throughout Dhaka, Chattogram, Narayanganj and Gazipur cities remain the only option left for mitigating the COVID-19 crisis,’ he offered.

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