Covid-19 Outbreak: Callousness of a few puts many lives at risk | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 06, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:40 AM, April 06, 2020

Covid-19 Outbreak: Callousness of a few puts many lives at risk

Dhaka city has been virtually paused. Streets are almost empty, shops shuttered, restaurants closed, families cloistered at home -- all attempted to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Many people in the city have had to postpone their planned celebrations -- from birthdays to weddings -- as they took the stay-home and social distancing orders seriously.

But, some people, who are not in dire need to go out, are still venturing out into public spaces, aimlessly roaming on the otherwise empty streets and gossiping in groups, oblivious to the danger they could be in.

Despite the patrol of law enforcers and army personnel, these people were spotted hanging out or having a chitchat in narrow allies and on some roads in the city over the last two days.

Yesterday afternoon, a group of six teenagers were seen gossiping in the narrow alleyway in East Rajabazar.

Approached, one of them said, "We have been staying at home since the order came into effect. But, actually, we have come here to break the monotony. [We] will go back home soon."

Near Rabindra Sarobar in Dhanmondi-8, another group of youths were milling about cheerfully. One of them said with the most casual nonchalance, "Nothing will happen to me as I follow what I need to follow."

His friend piped in with youthful reassurance, "Corona does not kill the young."

Since the first positive case of Covid-19 reported on March 8, the country has been witnessing a rise in the spread of the infection. As of yesterday, there have been reported 61 cases of Covid-19 in Bangladesh.

The government has stepped up efforts to contain the outbreak, closing educational institutions, shutting down offices and snapping public transportation services. It announced the shutdown and asked people to stay home to lower the risk of exposure.

Although many people are complying with the government orders, some people are not. And for other, especially those living hand to mouth, this order appears to be a harsh reality.

Nasima Akter, a housemaid, is one of them. She was seen standing in a crowd of a dozen of women in Dhanmondi-15 area with the hope of relief from any source.

"If we don't come out, we would die in hunger," she said.

Experts said it's upsetting to see people disobeying the stay-at-home order. By doing so, they are putting not only themselves, but their families and friends at risk as well.

They said staying home is a strain on everyone. It is, however, an effective way to slow the spread of the virus and save lives.

They said after 23 days since the first reported case, the next two weeks would be crucial for a densely populated country, as there is a higher possibility of spreading the virus like it did in several other countries, including Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the US.

The World Health Organisation's former regional adviser Muzaherul Huq said people must stay at home and can only venture out into public spaces when it is absolutely necessary.

"By simply staying at home, people could save more lives than they might ever know," he said, suggesting that people should be motivated to stay indoors.

Law enforcers should also strictly implement social distancing, he added.

Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general of Police Headquarters, said, "Police officials are making people aware through various ways, including social media and the use of loudspeakers."

"We are approaching people humbly, but we will be strict if we find anyone violate [orders] or became violent," he added.

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