People still gathering at Patenga beach despite knowing risks of coronavirus spread
06:54 PM, March 18, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:11 AM, March 19, 2020

People still gathering at Patenga beach despite knowing risks of coronavirus spread

Following the closure of schools, colleges and universities amid the coronavirus outbreak, people -- including teachers, students and professionals -- had been flocking Patenga beach despite warnings against public gatherings.

The large crowds have sparked fears of hastening the spread of the highly infectious virus.

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To stem the tide of visitors, Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) imposed a ban on gathering at Patenga beach in the port city this afternoon.

CMP later also banned entry of visitors at Foy's Lake, Jamburi Park, and other sites in the city and deployed police officials to prevent people from gathering at the spots.

Police also set up banners, distributed leaflets and made announcements over loud speakers to raise awareness about avoiding public gathering.

But people were still coming.

During conversations with this correspondent, it was clear many of the visitors knew the risks, but had still chosen to gather on the beach, as they may not be totally aware of how the virus incubates and spreads.

Nazrul Islam, a teacher of Muhurpara High School in Agrabad area of the port city, said, "I know the risk of such gatherings. But it is not as if we are coming here every day. We came here for only today and won't return," he said.

He acknowledged the police were doing a good job.

This correspondent also saw a minibus carrying at least a hundred madrasa students trying to park near the beach.

Sensing the presence of police and journalists, the bus quickly took off.

Nisan Kumar Dey, assistant sub-inspector of Patenga Police Station, told The Daily Star that since morning at least a dozen school buses were driven away from the beach, adding that it was becoming difficult to stop visitors.

Nisan, with 10 volunteers, was alerting people and asking them to go back, along the five kilometre sea beach.

Shahadat Hossen Nayeem, a grade ten student of Mekhol High School in Hathazari upazila, told The Daily Star that they had learnt about the Covid-19 in school and he had come here as there was nothing to do at home.

Nayeem's teacher, who was accompanying him, did not want to talk and left the scene.

Jesmin Akther, a banker living in the city's Baizid area, told The Daily Star that she was forced by her sons to come to the beach.

"What to do when my sons, who are old enough to understand the risk, force me to visit these places," she said.

Idris Bappi, a volunteer who was asking people to evacuate the beach, told The Daily Star that people were adamant and did not heed to their warnings.

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