The best strategy to fight the pandemic is to stifle its spread. This was brought out quite clearly during the last one year of our experience of the virus. Although the government has decided, belatedly though, to go for a general lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, it doesn't quite solve the ancillary problems thrown up by the pandemic. A general lockdown has far wider and severer implication; the economic impacts leave an equally damaging effect, if not more, on the nation. It throws up the question of lives and livelihood. The efficacy of the combat plan depends on how a balance is made between the two. This dichotomy is not unique to Bangladesh. Even the rich nations have faced the same contrasting compulsions.
Combatting the pandemic demands a multipronged effort and this aspect was brought out very well in a virtual discussion organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue on Monday. Thus, a lockdown must also come with adequate support to the marginalised so that health safety measures can be enforced more effectively. And, apart from the government's fiscal policy to deal with the economic impact, particularly on the marginalised segment of society, experts felt that the role of the community in dealing with the pandemic was an indispensable aspect of the mitigation effort. Community based efforts to improve awareness regarding the health safety measures would be more effective than the general efforts that we have experienced so far. And the community can also pool resources, both cash and kind, to help those who would be comparatively at a greater disadvantage than the others more fortunate. The suggestion of building community isolation centres that can be operated with the help of patients' relatives is an idea worth considering.
We hope that the administration will give due consideration to the suggestions made at the conference. We are sure too, that the government will come up with aid programmes like last year. While those previous efforts were partly blunted by some unscrupulous officials and local leaders, we hope that will not be allowed to happen this time.