Our abject failure in maintaining social distance
While people around the world have been meticulously trying to maintain social distance in a bid to fight the deadly coronavirus, it seems many people in Bangladesh just couldn't care less about it to contain further spread of the virus. The result is, we are noticing an alarming rise in the number of new infections and deaths from the disease across the country. After the first few Covid-19 cases were detected in the country, the first major risk of spreading the virus across the country was taken when the government announced a national holiday from March 26, before the start of which people in their thousands left the capital for their village homes. The second major risk was taken when hundreds of garment workers were made to come back to the city to join work at the beginning of this month. We have just started to witness the results of these two incidents. And what we have witnessed last Saturday—when thousands of people from different corners of the country gathered at Brahmanbaria's Sarail upazila to attend the namaz-e-janaza of a religious leader, defying government orders to maintain social distancing—could be described as the third major incident that would further spread the virus among people.
Apart from these unfortunate events, shutdown and social distancing measures taken by the government are often being ignored by people in general. Every day, hundreds of people gather at local bazaars, which are believed to be the hotspots of spreading and contracting the virus, to buy daily necessities and poor people queue up on the street to buy subsidised food without maintaining the safe distance. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies could do little to make people keep a safe distance from one another and also could not stop people from coming out of home unnecessarily.
And then there are thousands of garment workers who have been protesting on the streets for days to get their due salaries, risking their own lives, but are not getting anything except assurances from the garment owners.
We hope the government will be strict enough to enforce the shutdown and social distancing measures with the help of the law enforcement agencies. It should also seek the cooperation of civil society, including the religious bodies, to ensure that no social gatherings, religious or otherwise, take place in the country during this time of a national health crisis.