Lifting of restrictions untimely and dangerous for Bangladesh: Daily Star

DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The decision taken by the government to lift all restrictions on public movement and activities which were imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus is untimely and dangerous.

The decision came at a time when the number of Covid-19 patients, including critical ones, is on the rise in our hospitals. It is also unfortunate that the government allowed public transport to operate at full capacity.

According to health experts, in order for the Covid-19 outbreak to be brought under control, the positivity rate will have to fall below 5 per cent.

However, the current positivity rate in the country is still 20.16 per cent, which is much higher than the global average. On what possible grounds did the government make such a decision?

The government’s response to the pandemic has been slow and inadequate from the very beginning.

It took quite some time for it to impose lockdown in the first phase of the outbreak. Then, it took some containment measures in consultation with the experts and formed a few committees to oversee the situation.

However, when it came to implementing the measures, it failed miserably.

Then the government withdrew the lockdown and experimented with a new strategy – marking the districts and city areas as red, yellow and green zones according to the number of patients.

Unfortunately, this also could not be enforced properly for lack of an efficient plan. And during the last one month, we did not come across any measures from the authorities concerned to contain the outbreak.

And in the absence of any strict containment strategy, the country has been witnessing a high number of deaths since last month.

Understandably, the government took the decision to revive the country’s battered economy as well as to ease people’s economic hardship. But questions remain as to what precautionary steps have been taken before lifting all these restrictions.

Did the government take experts’ suggestions before reaching the decision? Is there currently any monitoring mechanism in place to ensure that health safety guidelines are maintained in public places, including markets?

It is common sense that maintaining physical distancing in overcrowded public transport is not possible.

Therefore, we might see further transmission of the virus in the coming days. Will the government give the issue a second thought before it is too late?

The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.

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