THE 50th Independence Day of Bangladesh is here. But unlike for the past 49 years when it had meant celebrations by the nation of its aspirations to break free of the neocolonial repression of the ruling class based in the western wing of the united Pakistan and of having successfully accomplished the task through the liberation war of 1971 that came with a victory in December that year, this time the day has also come with concerns for all. It has come with entitlements on part the government to put in its best efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 outbreak, already declared a pandemic, and on part of citizens to help themselves, society and the government to save the nation from the new coronavirus that has by Wednesday infected 434,854 people in more than 195 countries and left 19,607 people dead since December 2019 when its infection was first reported in China. The government has already taken several measures to contain the spread of the virus infection, most of them apparently belated though. The government has closed educational institutions, ordered restrictions on public gatherings, arranged for quarantine of suspected cases and somewhat locked down a few areas.
In the latest of the measures, the government has announced a five-day holiday, which automatically extends to 10 days because of the Independence Day holiday and two two-day weekends, to stop the spread of the infection. It has halted trains, launches and public transports and deployed the army in the aid of the civil administration to ensure social distancing, which is a non-pharmaceutical infection control action meant to stop or slow down the spread of any infection. The government has also put in place financial and other assistance, still not believed to be adequate though, for the poor and the low-income people, who already appear to have been hit hard by the loss of scope for livelihood because of the coronavirus infection fears. The number of new coronavirus infection cases has so far reached 39, with five deaths until Wednesday and seven cases having been announced closed. The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research on Wednesday also feared that a limited-scale community transmission of the infection may have happened at Mirpur in the capital Dhaka where two COVID-19 patients died, one on March 20 and the other on March 22 although there are fears that community transmission of the infection has been in the thick of it. The government has earlier decided not to hold public celebrations of Independence Day in view of the impending danger of the new coronavirus infection.
In a grave situation like this, while we at New Age extend our best wishes to all on the occasion of Independence Day, we would also like to note that that the new coronavirus situation could create a further fearful situation unless we all, the government included, put in our best efforts to fight the threat. While the government has announced a set of measures and is expected to have more of them that are needed, all should remember that it is everybody’s war, as was largely the case in 1971, and it is time everyone extended their support for the war, as almost everyone did in 1971. All, especially the young, the wealthy and the worthy, must come forward to head off any disaster their own way, by helping themselves and by helping others.
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