The recent government decision to reopen readymade garment factories, shopping malls and mosques would put the public health in greater jeopardy, experts said against the backdrop of Bangladesh registering more cases than the USA, India and Pakistan by the end of the two-month period.
They said that the decision to reopen the establishments could increase the community transmission of the new coronavirus as the country was now passing a critical time with respect to the spreading of the virus.
According to the government decision, the shopping malls will open from tomorrow while RMG factories and mosques have already opened though some shopping mall and market owners have decided not to open their businesses.
The experts suspected that the government might have decided to reopen the businesses as it could not ensure enough food for the needy while the businesses succeeded in exerting enough pressure on the government for the decision.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury told New Age that the decision on reopening of the business and other entities and the mentality of hiding information during the coronavirus situation would invite a greater danger for the country.
He said that the government took the decisions as it gave more priority to bureaucrats than experts.
He also said that allowing the shopping malls to reopen ignoring the hawkers would create injustice.
He said that the management of the situation could not be very difficult if the government ensured food for some two crore needy people for one month.
Freedom fighter-doctor Professor Quazi Quamruzzaman said that most experts were for the shutdown to continue for some more days as the global situation hinted that shutting down was the best policy.
He pointed out that China and some other countries were withdrawing the lockdown after they had almost brought the situation under control.
He viewed that the government should realise the people’s expectation, which was reflected by some shopping mall owners as they declined to reopen their markets.
He went on that proper management of the government rations and incentives could have helped the people to stay at home so that the shutdown could have been extended.
‘The management should be such that the aid and incentives can be ensured for all the needy,’ he affirmed.
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman said that as nearly every other country was facing this crisis so should our government navigate the challenge of balancing imperatives of life on the one hand and living on the other.
It appears that under the pressure of the politically powerful business lobbies like the RMG sector which started it all, living got precedence over life, he added.
‘If the key strategic consideration was to keep the supply chain of only essential food and services operational with top priority on the most needy and vulnerable, and if other business interests could be parked until the peak of the curve was reached, life and health would not have been exposed to such critical risks,’ Iftekharuzzaman said.
Notably, having given in to the dominant sections of business lobbies that opened the Pandora’s Box, it was no longer possible to ignore religious imperatives, though they were earlier reasonably handled, he said, adding, ‘In the end, the business-politics lobby has prevailed at life risk.’
Till Friday, the COVID-19 death toll hit 206 and the number of detected patients rose to 13,134 in Bangladesh.
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