Speakers in a webinar on Monday asked the government to extend food and cash aids to the poor with the enforcement of a strict ‘lockdown’ for combating the second wave of the coronavirus.
They also asked the government to involve communities and non-government organisations for a coordinated approach in maintaining health guidelines during the discussion organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
Virologists, representatives of trade bodies and economists took part in the interactive discussion titled ‘How will we tackle the second wave of the pandemic?’
Most of them expressed their worries over how ignoring the restrictions imposed since April 5 worsened the situation while others point to the failure in maintaining vigilance due to which the new variant from South Africa sneaked into the country.
Now a proper ‘lockdown’ at highly infected areas in Dhaka and Chattogram was imperative, said Bangladesh Health Watch convener Dr Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury.
The government also needs to feed the informal sector workers and the poor living from hand to mouth during the ‘lockdown’, he said.
Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research adviser Dr Mohammad Mushtuq Husain suggested that the government should adopt need-based approaches until Eid-ul Azha to contain the second wave.
For the present precarious situation, IEDCR principal scientific officer ASM Alamgir blamed the ‘denial syndrome’ among people and the absence of willingness among them to undergo tests.
National Association of Shop Owners president Md Helal Uddin said the new COVID-19 variant might not have entered the country had the quarantine rules were maintained properly at all airports.
He said that the latest ‘lockdown’ would ruin the business prospects of the most important period starting from Pahela Baishakh and two Eid festivals.
The government had imposed over a two-month-long shutdown since March 26, 2020 to contain the first wave of the coronavirus.
It also announced stimuli worth Tkl 1.24 lakh crore in the last year under 23 packages to overcome the economic fallouts.
Bangladesh Employers’ Federation general secretary Farooq Ahmed reminded all that small entrepreneurs did not get any benefit from the government incentive programmes.
Bangladesh Garment Sromik Samhati president Taslima Akhter and Industri ALL Bangladesh Council general secretary China Rahman said the fresh ‘lockdown’ would take a toll on readymade garment workers.
They feared the recurrence of job cuts in the RMG sector.
Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin MP, also former Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association president, responded that job cuts are a global phenomenon.
He, however, said job entrenchment in violation of the county’s rules was not acceptable.
Newly elected Bangladesh Readymade Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Faruque Hassan iterated the association’s demand for resumption of loan support.
The RMG exporters availed of Tk 10,500 crore from the stimuli package to pay the workers’ wages, mostly at a subsidised interest rate.
Earlier, CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said he supported the recommendations by the virologists for enforcing a strict ‘lockdown’ and the cash transfer to needy people.
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