Is the decision to relax the lockdown suicidal?

Monday, 11 April, 2020

In a global war against the novel corona virus, Bangladesh is defending itself by observing lockdown to prevent further transmission. This lockdown has been in place since the 22nd of March 2020.COVID-19 cases and deaths are on a steady rise in the country. Every week more people are being infected and the country is gradually moving towards the peak of the transmission. The number of tests being conducted is still insufficient and it is difficult to say when the peak will be reached.

Picture is collected from internet

The mobility data shows that lockdown is being observed considerably in Bangladesh, the reality paints a different picture. Many people consider the idea of a lockdown a western concept that is rather obsolete and not as effective for a developing country like Bangladesh. Yet experts suggest that it is our best shot at winning. Nonetheless, government has decided to relax the lockdown by reopening garment factories, shopping malls and restaurants from 10th May onwards.
In the dawn of events, government has established a committee of healthcare experts to advise them on necessary steps. The facts and figures that they brought to the table do not really show any signs of improvement, in fact numbers have been rising everyday. Keeping this in mind, the government’s decision to relax the lockdown seems to be the result of pressure from industrialists or perhaps considering the economy. It is difficult to say how well thought out this decision might have been. Certainly, the relaxed lockdown has multiple Insinuation such as political, economic and social outcomes. In other words, it may save some lives that might be killed due to various other non-infectious diseases.
Many statistical models and data are being used around the world in search of a pattern. All these point at the same direction. A lockdown seems to be the only reasonable solution. Yet the government is dropping down their guards by relaxing the lockdown. Garment factories were opened a few days ago and if shops and shopping malls are also opened, then it will increase manifold. According to the data collected so far the places with the highest number of cases are Dhaka, Narayangonj and Gazipur. Coincidentally, these are also the places that house the maximum number of garment factories.
In one of the most densely populated countries of the world, where more than half the population is staggering through life, relying on hand to mouth, maintaining lockdown is difficult for sure. In this conflict between life and livelihood, a country like ours cannot afford to be locked down for long. Amidst everything, the government has taken some commendable initiatives, but undoubtably more can be done. A zoning system might be set in place, for example, the areas that are most affected would not be opened yet and people from that area are restricted from visiting other areas and shopping malls. In this case the use of mobile location can be taken into consideration. People can be divided into green, yellow and red zones according to their current location. This would be informed to them via text messages that must be shown upon entry.
Since garment factories are reopening anyways, the least that they can do is maintain a few guidelines, like dividing workers into shifts, to prevent overcrowding. Workers should be provided with personal protective equipment and disinfectants to prevent further transmission. Non-contact thermometers should be used to take temperature readings of all the workers before entry. These are simple measures that can have a big impact.
Incase of shopping malls, opening them a couple of weeks before Eid would mean that crowd management would be next to impossible. And this would also create further problems such as traffic congestion. As shop owners have been permitted to keep shopping malls and markets open on a limited scale, some of them reopened their shops in different parts of the country, including Dhaka and Chattogram. It is not all bad news, infact as of now, businessmen in Sylhet city and owners of 11 markets in Chattogram city decided not to open their businesses before Eid-ul-Fitr. They kept their businesses shut as there is no sign of reducing the spread of corona virus. The decision was taken at a meeting on Friday attended by local business leaders and presided over by Sylhet city corporation mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury. If all goes well, other cities will soon follow. Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) on Thursday asked city dwellers to complete their Eid shopping from markets located within two kilometers of their respective areas maintaining government declared timetable and hygiene. The DMP also directed to install automatic disinfection tunnels or chambers at the entrance of every shopping mall. In addition, each store must have separate temperature measurement system.
Health experts also warned that the reopening of shops and malls ahead of the festival of Eid will lead to a rise in corona virus transmission.
I think we can all agree on one thing, that we would rather celebrate Eid in our old clothes, knowing that our loved ones are safe, than in new clothes bought at the expense of risking millions of lives, including those that we love dearly.

Platform feature writer/ Nadia Islam

Source: Various daily newspaper

জামিল সিদ্দিকী

A dreamer who want to bring positive changes in health sector in Bangladesh.

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