We are disheartened at the ever-increasing daily Covid-19 death rate in the country, with Friday seeing a record 101 deaths. Though it should be reassuring that we are in the midst of a "strict" lockdown, it seems it is only the main roads and intersections which remain free of people. Disappointingly, kitchen markets, mosques, and alleys are still as crowded as ever (in the capital and in cities like Barisal, Sylhet, and Chattogram), with many people not even wearing masks. One has to wonder at the actual strictness of this lockdown if kitchen markets and mosques are exempt from the basic guidelines of mask-wearing and social distancing.
While law enforcement agencies must be lauded for adamantly carrying out their duties at check-posts, fining people not carrying movement passes, and making announcements on the roads asking people to stay home, it is unfortunate that these measures were only being taken on major streets. As a result, the alleys remained populated and many shops (besides pharmacies and grocery shops) operated freely.
This lax implementation of the lockdown only adds insult to the injury that is the exponentially higher daily Covid-19 death rate. Earlier this month, the health minister announced a makeshift hospital in Mohakhali's DNCC Market, which would have 200 ICU beds (initially 50), 200 HDU beds, and 1,000 isolation beds. While this gives us hope in the current situation (wherein the scarcity of ICU beds and oxygen tanks are causing deaths nationwide for Covid-19 patients), we cannot help but wonder why authorities waited until there was a second wave to finally take such an initiative.
While it is true that many people neglect their symptoms and delay seeking treatment resulting in fatalities, it is undeniable that even for those who do seek treatment, the medical facilities are far from adequate. While the capital is receiving special attention from the authorities in this regard, virologist Dr Nazrul Islam says that at least 36 districts lack any proper treatment facilities for Covid-19. The government must be much stricter in its enforcement of basic health guidelines (wearing masks, social distancing, and maintenance of good hygiene), and this enforcement must be carried on in the post-lockdown period as well, so as to avoid a third wave of the virus. Citizens must be made aware of the dangers of not practicing health guidelines. It is also necessary for the authorities to not only hasten the addition of treatment facilities in the capital, but to also introduce these facilities (such as ICU beds and ventilation support) all over the country. Only when every Covid-19 patient in every corner of the country has access to proper treatment can we be truly optimistic about eliminating the virus.