Curbs eased the day DGHS wants them tougher | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:32 AM, April 09, 2021

Curbs eased the day DGHS wants them tougher

Malls, shops may now be open for 8 hours

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) yesterday wrote to the Prime Minister's Office, urging it to toughen restrictions in order to curb the transmission of Covid-19.

"We wrote to the PMO appealing for the enforcement of stricter restrictions like curfews," a top DGHS official, wishing not to be named, told The Daily Star.

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He said health officials think it would not be possible to bring the situation under control otherwise.

DGHS officials met on Wednesday to discuss the pandemic situation of the country and then sent the letter that very day.

They said the way things are going in the name of restrictions are simply "suicidal" and the health department cannot afford such a setback.

The day the letter was sent, the government announced through a circular that shops and malls will be kept open for eight hours every day from today amid health experts' concerns.

Meanwhile, on that very day, country witnessed its highest number of Covid-19 deaths -- seventy-four people in just 24 hours till 8:00am.

The circular said shops and malls can be open from 9:00am to 5:00pm till April 13, on the condition of strict maintenance of health guidelines.

"Steps will be taken if health guidelines are violated," the circular read.

It was not mentioned whether the shops and malls would remain open after April 13.

MA Faiz, public health expert and a former director general of the DGHS, yesterday told The Daily Star that the government's decision might worsen the Covid-19 situation and have an adverse impact on public health.

The government should think of alternative measures, including providing cash and food incentives for workers and traders during the shutdown.

"The government decision was not proper nor based on reality...," he added.

Earlier on April 4, the Cabinet Division issued an 11-point directive to be followed from 6:00am Monday to 12:00am on April 11 to contain the spread of the virus. The directive also said punitive actions will be taken against violators of the directives.

However, the restrictions were not applicable to offices, employees and transports involved in maintaining law and order, relief distribution, emergency and health services, electricity, water and gas supply, fire service, port activities, and telephone and internet services.

Banks will operate from 10:00am to 12:30pm, while public, private and autonomous offices can facilitate commute of their employees to workplaces, using their own transport on a limited scale.

Industrial units and factories can do the same for their workers, while construction works will be going on. Ekushey Boi Mela will also continue from noon to 5:00pm every day.

On Wednesday, bus operators resumed services in all 11 cities across the country after a two-day long pause.

The authorities on Tuesday issued a circular allowing public transport services in the cities from 6:00am to 6:00pm. Many buses in the capital, however, were seen operating even after the stipulated time.

Vehicles, except for the ride-sharing motorbikes, resumed operation in the capital from Wednesday.

Several public health experts pointed out that some restrictions, laid out in the government's 11-point directive, were not rational while some are contradictory.

Meanwhile, a lack of coordination and community engagement and the absence of supportive measures for the possible sufferers due to the restrictions have made it difficult to implement most of the measures, they added.

Traders of different shops in the city said businesses, especially those related to clothing, get a huge boost with the coming of Pahela Baishak and Eid-ul-Fitr. Almost half of the total year's business usually takes place during these two biggest festivals of the country.

Owners of different markets, including New Market, Gausia, Gulistan and Mirpur, took to the streets demanding the opening of shops and malls following Monday's partial lockdown.

 

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