Scholars interviewed by The Daily Star in Rajshahi have urged the government to ensure ample supply of testing kits for detecting coronavirus at union level without making any further delay.
They suggested revealing all facts about the spread of the virus and disseminating information on ways to avoid contamination, so that people can keep themselves safe instead of panicking over the pandemic.
They also emphasised the need for engaging concerned communities to aware others about the importance of social distancing and self-isolation, which is required to reduce the spread of the highly contagious disease.
The Daily Star interviewed four scholars in Rajshahi, as people continued to panic-buy essentials, creating a shortage in markets fearing an impending lockdown over the pandemic. Local administration is struggling to conduct drives for keeping market prices under control while also conducting awareness campaigns for social distancing.
Prof Muhammad Mizanuddin of Rajshahi University's sociology department said testing people randomly was essential as the virus spreads at four levels – first a person is attacked, he infects his family, family affects community and then it becomes an epidemic.
"This pandemic is [one of] the worst in earth's history, but the ways to fight it is not a new phenomenon for Bangladesh. We already have examples from other countries," said Prof Mizanuddin, also a former vice chancellor of the university.
"The thing that matters now is management of the pandemic, and we're running out of time for taking decisions," he said.
"Bangladesh is at high risk of the virus spreading," eminent litterateur Hasan Azizul Haque told this correspondent, "Communities have to take initiative to keep themselves safe until government assistance arrives."
Anthropology teacher at RU, Bokhtiar Ahmed said people are panicking due to lack of awareness.
The testing facility for detecting coronavirus is limited to the capital so far and there is no report of the disease spreading to other parts of the country, he said quoting government claims.
"How do we know this information? Unless we test a large number of people, we don't actually have the real picture of the spread," Ahmed said.
"Facts must be produced. Once they have the information, people can have confidence in government's steps, understand the level of risk, and take preventive measures," he said, adding that no campaign, other than facts, can stop people from going outside their homes.
The scholars also urged the government to provide personal protective equipment to doctors, so that they can attend to patients without getting infected themselves.