'NO MASK NO ENTRY' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 13, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:49 AM, July 13, 2020


How a upazila trying to keep Covid-19 figures under control

Mandatory use of face masks and social distancing have kept the number of Covid-19 cases low in Dinajpur's Hakimpur upazila, compared to the district's 12 other upazilas, local officials say.

From March 10 till yesterday, only 11 people tested positive in Hakimpur, which has a population of about 1.20 lakh.

Till date, eight recovered and none died from Covid-19 in the upazila, according to the northern district's civil surgeon office.

On the other hand, Covid-19 cases in the rest of the district totalled 959 till yesterday.

In Dinajpur Sadar upazila cases were 350, Birampur 107, Chirirbandar upazila 74, Parbatipur 79, Birol 61, Ghoraghat 59, Kaharol 49, Nawabganj 48, Khansama 45, Phulbari 33, Birganj 30 and Bochaganj 24.

Dr Touhid Al Hasan, health and family planning officer of Hakimpur, said several initiatives such as "No Mask, No Entry" and "No Mask, No Sale" as well as social distancing measures have helped keep the numbers low.

So far, 300 samples, collected at the Hakimpur Upazila Health Complex, were tested in the district headquarters, he told The Daily Star last Wednesday. No new samples were tested as of yesterday. 

Only samples of patients, who came to the health facility with coronavirus symptoms, were collected and tested, he added.

The physician said a 16-member Corona Protirodh Committee headed by the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) was formed in May with members from different professional groups in the upazila to monitor the pandemic situation.

Similar committees have been formed at the union levels, said Touhid, who is also the member secretary of the upazila committee.

Early June, the upazila Corona Protirodh Committee introduced "No Mask, No Entry" regulation which barred people from entering Hakimpur and its public and private establishments without wearing a mask.

Since July 4, the committee introduced "No Mask, No Sale" regulation among the local traders.

Shopkeepers in the upazila headquarters and even in villages, through union parishads have been asked not to sell any item if customers do not wear masks.

If the rule is violated, the committee punishes the traders.

Already several shops have been shut down for selling products to customers wearing no mask.

Fazlur Rahim, president of Hakimpur Dokan Malik Samity (shop owners association), said all their members support the "No Mask, No Sale" policy and are following it.

Only three shop-owners violated the rule and their shops were closed, he added.

Talking to The Daily Star on Wednesday, Hakimpur's UNO Abdur Rafiul Alam said he has been operating a mobile court regularly since April.

So far, 207 cases have been filed against those who violated Covid-19 restrictions and about Tk 7 lakh has been realised in fine, he added.

Coronavirus cases in Hakimpur, that lies on the India-Bangladesh border, is also low compared to other upazilas adjacent to the border -- Dinajpur Sadar, Biral, Birampur, Chirirbandar and Phulbari.

The UNO said movement of around 500 Indian truckers and helpers, who commute every day through Hakimpur's border with India carrying imported goods, have also been restricted.

"Now, the Indian truckers and helpers cannot roam easily in the upazila as they did before," he added.

Besides, at nine entry points of the upazila, incoming travellers are questioned. They are asked to go into 14 days of home quarantine if they have coronavirus symptoms or had come in contact with Covid-19 patients.

About social distancing measures, he said in March, April and May, volunteers gave doorstep service to the needy and common people to prohibit any gathering at shops and markets.

Abdur Rafiul believes Hakimpur can be a model for other places in the country.

"It's a great achievement by Hakimpur's residents. The people behind it deserve acknowledgement", said Abdul Kalam Azad, a senior citizen and President of Dinajpur Chapter Sector Commanders' Forum.


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