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27 March, 2020 12:42:15 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 27 March, 2020 05:58:40 PM

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People stay indoors

Police offers help to those requiring emergency services like carrying sick people to hospitals
STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
People stay indoors
A police team stops a rickshaw with two passengers in front of the National Press Club on Topkhana Road in the capital yesterday to inquire about their reason to venture outside, as the government urges all to stay in their homes except for urgent needs. Focus Bangla Photo

The entire country, including the capital city, wore a deserted look yesterday on the first day of a 10-day government-declared closure to contain the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), with the countrymen mostly staying indoors amid heavy patrol outside by law-enforcers and members of armed forces.

Offices including the government and the private ones, business outlets, shopping malls, buses, trains and launch services, except for the emergency ones, remained closed, which virtually forced the entire country to a total halt.

The law-enforcers, including the armed forces, started patrolling across the country, including the divisional cities, to ensure social distancing among people.

Vehicles remained out of the roads and streets in all divisional and district towns, while the railway stations and launch terminals were also closed amid such a situation.

The government took the initiative of ensuring people’s social distancing by deploying the law enforcers as such measures are believed to help contain the spread of the deadly virus among mass people.

In the capital, the city services and inter-district bus services to and from Dhaka came to a halt while the rail and air services, both on domestic and international routes, remained shut to curb the movement of people.

The capital was virtually cut off from the rest of the country as movement of all sorts of transports were stopped.

As the buses remained stranded in the capital’s inter-district bus terminals at Sayedabad, Jatrabari, Mohakhali, Gabtoli, some of the bus staffs were seen passing idle times with many others left the city already.

Bangladesh Bus Truck Owners’ Association President Maruf Talukder Sohel said, “We respect the government decision, which is why we’re not running any bus. In fact, we have to work together to save us all.”

Police and army were found patrolling the main thoroughfares of the capital and appealing to the people so that they stay at home, while also making them

aware as to what should be done in such situations.

The law enforcers were not allowing people to walk in groups and even insisted people if found anyone out of home without any proper business whatsoever. Even they were seen slapping fine on the persons riding motorcycles or steering the motor vehicles on the streets.

In fact, the law-enforcers were very strict to curb people’s movement outside home. Many people were reportedly harassed by the law-enforcers even if they went out for emergency services. But police did not listen to them, rather harassed or beat them allegedly.

As some emergency services like hospitals or drug stores remained open, people needed to go there for addressing their needs. But it was alleged that many people were harassed by the law-enforcers while on the way to such places.

People said they are also aware of the current situation, but they needed to go outside whenever necessity arose.

A female government health official said she was going to the COVID Control room at the Health Department in the capital’s Mohakhali from Kakrail riding a bicycle. As soon as she went close to Hatirjheel, a police officer asked her to stop hurling abusive language and even threatened to beat her.

“I disclosed my identity, then the police allowed me to go. But still he labelled me as a ‘bad’ woman. How can the law-enforcers misbehave with a woman high official belonging to the cadre service when she was going to attend office,” said Afsana Alamgir Khan, deputy programme manager of health department.

However, people were staying at homes as the law-enforcers were deployed in field duty across the country, including the capital. They were using mikes or megaphones telling people to stay at home, not to get panicked, forbidding them to gather anywhere, asking to keep hands clean and so on.

Our Correspondent from Chattogram said the law-enforcers and army were strict in not allowing people to roam around in this situation.

Police were seen patrolling in different streets of the district while all sorts of shops remained closed. People were mostly seen staying at home or moving at the lanes of their houses. Police were seen telling people to stay at home until any emergency arose.

Officer-in-charge of Chattogram Kotwali Police station Md Mohsin said, “We’re telling people to stay at home in this situation. If people needed any emergency service like carrying sick people to hospital, we would assist.”

On the other hand, 43 teams of army were assisting the local administration in Chattogram city, Chattogram district and three hill districts. The army personnel were looking after whether people were following the rules of home quarantine.

Our Rajshahi Correspondent said all kinds of vehicles were out of the streets while people were mostly staying at home. Law-enforcers were seen patrolling and telling people to maintain social distancing.

Army patrolled in different upazilas like Paba, Durgapur and other areas and asked people for ensuring home quarantine in suspected cases.

All kinds of shops and business enterprises remained closed leading it to wear a deserted look. Whenever people were found using auto-rickshaws, local administration asked about their reason of movement and not allowed to move two or three people together.

Our Sylhet Correspondent said the entire division including Sylhet districts had come to a standstill as the vehicular and people’s movement were off the road. Army patrolled in different upazilas of Sylhet like Biswanathpur, Jaintapur and Gowainghat and urged people not to gather in any place, rather maintain social distancing.

Even whenever police found any shop reaming open in various upazilas, the shop keepers were asked to shut down. However, the working poor people were in trouble as they didn’t have anything to do amid such a situation.

Our Staff Reporter from Barisal said law-enforcing agencies, including the armed forces, were patrolling on the Barishal city streets. They were found making people aware using megaphone of corona prevention and asking them to stay at home avoiding crowd outside.

All shops and business centres, except for medicine and grocery shops, remained closed while the city roads were seen almost vacant.

Our Rangpur Correspondent said the roads and streets were almost empty as no vehicles were seen plying on the streets. People were staying at home unless addressing any emergency. Law-enforcers were seen patrolling on the streets telling people to stay at home.

The divisional city virtually wore a deserted look following the steps taken by the government to contain coronavirus.

On Monday, the government declared general holidays from March 26 to April 4 and urged people to stay home and not to go outside without any emergency so that the coronavirus can be prevented to save people’s lives.

The government announced that only kitchen markets, food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and all emergency services would remain out of the purview of the general holidays. Trucks, covered vans and other vehicles carrying fuel, emergency services and perishable goods were also out of the purview of the transport lockdown.

2,500 army personnel deployed in 61 districts

Over 2,500 members of the Bangladesh Army are patrolling the streets in 61 districts to help the civil administration to ensure social isolation to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

In cooperation with the civil administration, the Army personnel are also ensuring quarantine and arranging awareness programmes about the importance of maintaining social distancing in divisional and district towns, according to a press release issued by the Inter Service Press Relations (ISPR) yesterday.

ISPR director Lt Col Abdullah Ibn Zaid told The Independent that Navy personnel are also working in coastal districts to help the civil administration to help check the spread of the virus. He said the Armed Forces Division (AFD) is monitoring the activities of the troops deployed across the country.

IK/BK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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