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People’s movement poses challenge

People’s movement poses challenge
People crowd around two police vehicles at Kamalapur in the capital yesterday as Dhaka Metropolitan Police distributes food items amongst the poor amid the ongoing 10-day closure over coronavirus pandemic. Independent Photo

Unruly people including the young ones, moving aimlessly here and there even during the government-declared 10-day closure amid concern over the deadly novel coronavirus, pose a major threat to maintaining social distance as part of checking people-to-people transmission.

It was also found that most of the people were devoid of the necessity of keeping at least three feet social distance, which is deemed to be a safety precaution in view of the coronavirus risk. Therefore, experts have emphasised on implementation of the government guidelines duly.

While visiting different spots in the capital yesterday, this correspondent found that common people irrespective of the educated and uneducated ones were roaming around in various parts of the city apparently without having any defined purposes whatsoever.

Like any other occasion, they were even seen taking part in social events this time too.

Our correspondents from different districts said hundreds of returnees from different countries across the globe are staying in their families and mixing with their near and dear ones in apparent indifference to the very situation they are in. In cases, they are even learned to have been hiding genuine information and also taking part in various occasions.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked to maintain social distance to check the spread of coronavirus in the country. All educational institutions side by side the private and public offices remain temporarily closed in an attempt

to halt the local outbreak. Members of armed forces, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police have been patrolling the roads as part of helping people keep social distance during the period.

While moving around the city, it was found that people started coming out on the streets in various pretexts. Some show the pretext of food, some others come out on the pretext of medicine while some say they’re faced with the dearth of money to buy the both.

The ‘unofficial lockdown’ has taken a toll on the lives of the lower income people who for the last couple of days started coming out as they didn’t have any option either. ‘Staying at home’ is not something that they can afford for a longer period.

However, experts said that people should maintain the guidelines of the government and also obey the rules and regulations put forth by the health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO). Otherwise, they said, the spread of the deadly virus may turn out to be even a bigger concern for us.

On Monday, the Karwanbazar kitchen market remained open as usual and shoppers were seen buying items while not paying heed when The Independent reporter tried to remind them of their responsibility to abide by the notion of keeping social distance.

It was noticed that the commoners with most of them being the young people were randomly violating the health guidelines while roaming around different city points.

A youth wished not to be named said that he came out of his home only to see for himself the empty state of the capital.

“Usually you won’t see such an empty look of the capital. All the busy roads are now almost deserted. I’ve come out to see this reality,” he said.

While this correspondent moved to tell him about the health guidelines, he said there is no situation of that sort right now in the country, which would be a problem for him.

Rahman, a residence of Farmgate, told The Independent that it is impossible to stay at home for such a long period.

“Our city is very small. For last four days, I’m staying at home. But I got bored and came out to see my city,” he said.

Like him, there were other people who were spotted in the capital in last two days coming out without any apparent necessity except for the day labourers.

A rickshaw puller at Moghbazar area told this correspondent that he earned only 70 Taka. If he didn’t pull the paddle of rickshaw, his three children would starve.

“Last two days were really bad. Police didnn’t allow us to carry more than one passenger.”

Another Rickshaw puller said, “Who will feed us? I don’t have any savings for my family. It’s afternoon, I have earned only Taka 80. In normal time I would have earned TK 700-900 a day. I don’t know how I will manage food for the family. Maintaining social distance is a joke for us.”

In Banglamotor and Hatirjhil areas, ride-sharing services were available; many people have taken out rentals with motorcycles. Different types of vehicles were operating including rickshaw, personal car, and pickup.

While talking to The Independent, Dr MA Aziz, Secretary General of the Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad (Swachip), said that people should obey the hygiene rules.

“Gathering of mass people in rural areas remain the biggest threat to spreading coronavirus in the country. We all have the emergency. But for this period, I would request people to stay in their homes,” he said.

He added that law enforcers must act carefully to stop this and help people follow the home quarantine, which will help us all.

However, army and police have been working on the streets to maintain social distancing since Thursday with cases of coronavirus infection increasing in the country day by day.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Md. Shafiqul Islam said a resident of the capital will be able to move outside if he/she maintains the hygiene advisory issued earlier.

“A person can move on the road using any transportation. But in that case, caution should be maintained,” he said.

With the sharp increase in cases globally, there have been urgent calls in many countries for travel bans and "social distancing" practices.

DMP members have also been asked to give special considerations to doctors, nurses, medical assistants and technicians and other emergency service providers like gas, water, electricity, journalists, workers of city corporations and security guards etc.




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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.

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