AS THE number of people having been infected with the novel coronavirus and died of COVID-19 increasing day by day, local lockdown, where required, appears to be a good way to stop the spread of the infection. In 24 hours till Tuesday morning, five people died of COVID-19 and 41 people tested positive for the coronavirus infection, with 20 of the cases reported from capital Dhaka and 15 are from neighbouring Narayanganj, showing a concentration in certain areas and districts. The situation being so, as health experts say, strict local lockdown is what is now imperative to head off the spread of the virus infection, which has globally left more than 1.34 million people infected and 74,744 dead as of Tuesday. Bangladesh’s response to COVID-19 has so far been marked by delayed measures, mismanagement and indecisiveness. The public holiday, now stretched till April 14 from March 26, aimed at stopping the spread of the infection by letting people stay at home appears not to have the intended impact as people are not maintaining social distancing.
Even after the beginning of the public holiday, the government showed a lackadaisical approach to forcing people to stay at home while people largely showed a suicidal lack of awareness and roamed about outside. Furthermore, a lack of coordination between different agencies created an uncalled-for situation on Saturday and Sunday when thousands of apparel workers walked down to the capital to join work. When the government is promoting and, in places, enforcing lockdown, mismanagement and indecisiveness are feared to have put thousands at the risk of infection. In such a state of things, it is assuring that the prime minister on Monday asked the authorities concerned finally to bring areas considered risky for COVID-19 transmission under a complete lockdown and check entry to and from Dhaka. Residents in different areas such as Mirpur, Basabo and others within the capital where cluster and limited community transmission are reported to have taken place and local administrations in different parts have already enforced local lockdown.
The government and its agencies concerned must, under the circumstance, enforce and monitor the lockdown to effectively stave off any COVID-19 transmission within the community. The government must, at the same time, ensure that food supply chain remains uninterrupted and that the poor and the disadvantaged are brought under adequate and effective relief programmes. In a time of crisis like this, any lack of coordination among agencies, lack of awareness among people and indecisiveness and delay in taking effective measures would cost dearly.
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