Enforce total LOCKDOWN
The country continues to see a steady uptick in coronavirus cases as the authorities reported three more deaths and 54 new cases yesterday.
The death toll stood at 20 while the number of confirmed cases reached 218 till 2:00pm yesterday -- the rise happened in just a month since the detection of the first Covid-19 case in Bangladesh.
What is worrying is that the capital continued to witness a surge in coronavirus cases. Yesterday too, it had the highest number of new cases -- 39. The total number of cases in the city is 123.
Experts say the surge in Covid-19 cases so far is only the tip of the iceberg, and there could be more cases in the coming days if the authorities do not go for quick detection of hidden cases and enforce lockdown strictly.
"It is just the tip of the iceberg. Though the number of test facilities is increasing, it is too little to detect hidden cases," Prof Mozaherul Huq, former regional director of World Health Organization (South East Asia), told The Daily Star.
He said the capital is now at high risk, and things would turn grave if lockdown is not enforced strictly.
"It is my projection that the number of infections in Dhaka city would reach five lakh within a month unless a complete lockdown is enforced," said Prof Mozaherul.
The ongoing lockdown has slowed down the virus transmission slightly. "But the existing lockdown strategy will not be able to stop the transmission. To get the full benefit, there should be a complete lockdown of Dhaka city."
Complete lockdown means no one will be allowed to step out of home for 14 days. "The ward councilors will supply daily necessaries with the help of local volunteers," he added.
Meanwhile, locals in different neighbourhoods in the capital closed the entry gates and discouraged outsiders from entering their localities.
In some areas, police have imposed restrictions on movement of people and vehicles by putting up makeshift gates.
"Police requested us not to venture out unless it's really necessary after a coronavirus case was detected in my area. They also put up barricades [on Narinda road] so that no vehicle can pass," said Mohammad Aslam, a resident in the capital's Wari.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police on Tuesday put 52 areas under lockdown after 15 new coronavirus cases were detected in the capital.
The move came following the cabinet meeting on Monday. Civil administration and law enforcement agencies have been asked to ensure lockdown in a coordinated way with the help of public representatives in the areas.
Contacted, LGRD Minister Tajul Islam said if anyone does any excesses in the name of lockdown in any area, legal action will be taken against the person.
Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), briefed the media about the new cases through videoconferencing yesterday.
Among the 54 new cases, 33 are male and 21 female.
Age-wise, five are between 11 and 20, 15 between 21 and 30, 10 between 31 and 40, 14 are between 41 and 60, and the rest above 60, the IEDCR director said.
The new cases were detected after testing 981 suspected cases -- 622 in nine labs in the capital and 359 in seven labs outside, she mentioned.
So far, 5,164 samples have been tested for coronavirus infection in the countrysince the IEDCR started conducting tests on January 28.
Narayanganj saw the second highest number of new cases -- 8. The total number of reported cases in the district is now 46, she said.
About the government's preparations, Prof Saniya Tahmina, additional director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said, "We have extended test facilities to 16 places in and outside the capital.
"We have distributed 474,774 PPEs [personal protective equipment] to those who are carrying out tests and providing healthcare [to Covid-19 patients]," she said, adding that they have a stock of more than two lakh pieces of PPE.
There are 112 intensive care units and 7,693 isolation beds across the country, she mentioned.
"All the ministries are working. Yet we would say, your safety is in your hands."
The Principal Branch of Agrani Bank in the capital's Motijheel area has been put under lockdown yesterday after one of its employees tested positive for Covid-19.
The employee, aged around 30, last came to work on Sunday, Mohammad Shams-Ul Islam, managing director of Agrani Bank, told The Daily Star.
Eighty-three employees of the branch have been kept in home quarantine, he added.
Meanwhile, Cox's Bazar was put under lockdown yesterday to contain the spread of the virus.
No one can enter or exit the district from now on, said Md Kamal Hossain, deputy commissioner of the district.
The lockdown will be in force until further notice, he added.