Experts warn of post-Eid Covid spike
The mask mandate is being grossly violated at bus stops, shopping malls, markets and restaurants in the capital despite steeply climb of Covid cases and deaths almost every day.
Experts said the transmission of the virus might go up after the Eid festival if the health safety rules are not maintained properly.
Yesterday, the Directorate General of Health Services reported 12 deaths from Covid-19, the highest after March 5 when 13 people died.
Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, said, "The cabinet has to take steps so that their directives are enforced. And the cabinet has to encourage the law enforcers and other volunteers to implement the directives."
On June 28, the cabinet issued a circular instructing all officials concerned to enforce "no mask, no service" policy everywhere as per the recommendations made by the NTAC earlier.
It also directed to ensure social distancing in all religious places, restaurants, malls and other public places. Otherwise, according to the circular, violators will be penalised.
Visiting several shopping malls, bus stops and Karwan Bazar kitchen market in the capital yesterday, it was seen that the directives were not being properly followed.
Around 5:00pm, some 67 people were waiting for buses at Farmgate. Only 11 of them had masks on.
"The majority of the passengers do not wear masks even after we ask them," said Saiful Islam, helper of a bus of Karwan Bazar-Mirpur DOHS route.
At the nearby rickshaw stand, shops and markets, most of the people were seen without masks.
Although the guards at Bashundhara Shopping Complex were not allowing anyone in without masks, a number of buyers and sellers inside the mall did not have masks on.
"We have been trying to ensure that everyone wears masks. But there are people who do not cooperate," Tariqul, a guard at the mall, told The Daily Star.
The gross violation of health safety rules was evident everywhere at Kawran Bazar kitchen market yesterday.
The virus transmission started rising early last month after it remained under control for around three months.
Yesterday, the DGHS logged 16.51 percent Covid positivity rate and 2,285 new cases in the country.
The number of daily deaths also increased with 43 deaths since the fourth wave of Covid-19 hit the country on June 7, according to the DGHS.
Mushtuq Hussain, consultant of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, "We observed five Eid festivals. It was seen that the transmission rate went up steadily following the Eid holidays. So, maintaining health safety rules everywhere is very urgent to control the transmission."
With the vaccine coverage target achieved, the virus may not be able to do massive harm, said Mushtuq.
"But the virus can do harm to the elderly and immunocompromised people … So, we have to ensure that we are not showing reluctance to maintain health rules."
Prof Nazrul Islam, on the other hand, stressed the need for starting vaccination for children aged six-12 as early as possible.
Prof Tahmina Shirin, director of the IEDCR, told this paper, "Despite higher vaccine coverage, we have been witnessing deaths almost every day … Definitely, reluctance to follow health safety rules is a concerning issue."
She also thinks there is a lax monitoring from the field-level administration. "Directives are already there. Now it is the field-level officials who will implement these."
The DGHS reported the first three cases of Covid-19 on March 8, 2020. Since then, the virus has claimed 29,174 lives.