To curb the ever-growing spread of coronavirus in the country, a group of eminent citizens placed a five-point demand urging the government to impose an effective nationwide lockdown immediately and ensure food and cash to all unemployed people.
In a joint press statement, 343 citizens, including university teachers, students, lawyers, journalists and activists, came up with the demands yesterday to save the countrymen from Covid-19.
"All offices, courts and labour-intensive factories should be closed except for urgent economic activities and emergency public service activities," read the statement.
They made the demand citing the intensified casualties and infection from Covid-19 saying that experts fear large-scale fatalities if an effective lockdown is not imposed and proper strategy not taken in this regard.
They also called upon the government to shut public transport, including inter-district services, with only food and medicine transport to be allowed. They also criticised the recent 60 percent fare hike in public transport.
They said the main condition for implementing the lockdown is to ensure that food and cash reach the homes of all unemployed people.
"The salaries and allowances of all mill workers, government and private offices, courts, employees and officials should be maintained and any kind of layoffs should be stopped," the statement said.
They also placed emphasis on increasing sample testing across the country, apart from expanding healthcare facilities and taking necessary steps to install labs and facilities in public universities.
"Increase the capacity of daily tests to reduce the clutter of collected samples, reduce unnecessary delays in sample identification."
About Gonoshasthaya Kendra's Rapid Dot-Blot test kits, the citizens asked the government to make publicise the trial results of the kit. If successful, nationwide use of this kit should be expedited, they added.
In the context of the increasing number of patients, they urged the government to increase the number of beds and provide uninterrupted supply of oxygen to each patient in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients or coronavirus wards at upazila, district and divisional levels.
The statement also suggested that temporary hospitals be set up in indoor stadiums, gymnasiums and convention centres.
They also urged the government to ensure appropriate medical care for about 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
The eminent citizens include -- Prof Anu Muhammad and Prof Mirza Taslima Sultana of Jahangirnagar University, Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, Prof Gitiara Nasreen, Prof Rubayet Ferdous, Prof Tanzimuddin Khan, Associate Professor Samina Luthfa of Dhaka University, Nusrat S Chowdhury, Associate Professor of Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA, among the other signatories.