Rajshahi residents defy social distancing advisory | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:39 AM, March 23, 2020

Rajshahi residents defy social distancing advisory

Divisional health director urges lockdown to tackle coronavirus

With expatriates -- most susceptible to coronavirus -- continuing to return to the country, the authorities concerned in Rajshahi are struggling to make residents aware of social distancing for precautionary measures against the deadly virus as they keep on gathering at various places in large numbers.

Besides, religious congregations are also taking place in the division on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, doctors of healthcare centres are also in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) for treating coronavirus suspects.

"Though there are still no reports of anyone being infected with coronavirus, we need to remain alert," said Dr Gopendra Nath Acharya, director of Rajshahi Divisional Health Office under Health Services Division.

The doctor informed that around 1,500 people with history of visiting corona-affected countries entered eight districts of the division in 24 hours till 6am yesterday, and all of them were asked to be home quarantined.

Urging the authorities concerned to impose a lockdown in the division, the director said the situation is grave as they do not have any testing facility. "Social distancing is important as it will lower the chances of getting infected," he said.

Unfortunately, people were still seen gathering at markets, parks and other places, despite government instruction of avoiding any kind of gathering as preventive measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Failing to stop religious gatherings, Rajshahi Deputy Commissioner Hamidul Haque asked various religious institutions to keep their premises clean regularly. He also recommended not to use any carpet on the floor.

Hamidul in a recent Facebook post asked residents to avoid gatherings and not to attend any event or go to restaurants or hotels in groups.

Golam Ruhul Kuddus, additional deputy commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police, said, "We cannot stop people from purchasing essentials. But as a precautionary measure, we asked police officials to monitor the gatherings and arrange queues, maintaining safe distance."

The number of persons who have entered Rajshahi city through different land ports from India is 1,868 while 900 people entered through airports since March 1, according to RMP data.

Meanwhile, a nurse of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) has been in home quarantine since Saturday after she came in close contact with a relative of an Italy returnee while travelling on a bus.

To screen coronavirus suspects as well as avoid spread of the disease, RMCH has set up a makeshift camp with three doctors in front of its outdoor department.

But patients were seen gathering in front of the camp without following protocol of keeping at least six-foot distance.

Kawsar Al Imran who brought her mother to the hospital yesterday, told The Daily Star, "There's no way we can maintain distance here as people continue to gather in large numbers."

He said hundreds like him waited for three hours under the sun but there was no doctor available.

Contacted, Saiful Ferdous, deputy director of RMCH, said, "We're trying our best. We have supplied PPE to them [three doctors] to handle patients. I don't know why they were not at the spot. I will look into the matter."

Meanwhile, to aware people on how to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, government officials in Rajshahi also launched a campaign on Friday.

As part of the initiative, they went to different areas of the city and handed over leaflets to residents. Wearing masks and hand gloves, the officials also spoke to shop owners and vendors over the issue.

Asked, Rajshahi Divisional Commissioner Humayun Kabir said though no one was being quarantined, they have to be prepared and alert.

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