Covid-19 – Lessons from the countryside
May 29th, 2020 at 4:27 pm
Covid-19 – Lessons from the countryside

by Nadeem Qadir:

NATORE, Bangladesh – Workers are busy picking lychees and tending mangoes about to ripe, while residents of some villages in this northern Bangladesh district giving a sense of freedom from the much dreaded COVID-19.

Few people were seen wearing masks of some kind, but apparently not of much use and none bothered to wear hand gloves. One may ask after a visit to Atgoria and Bongram villages, close to Qadirabad Cantonment, that is this place out of Bangladesh, which is witnessing a steep climb of new coronavirus cases over the past several days.

Even the Qadirabad Cantonment is under lockdown with exit or entry prohibited, especially for non-residents. Masks and sanitizing measures are in place at the gate with all members of the army posted wore masks.

The villagers, especially owners of fruit gardens, are more worried about the losses due to storms and the eventual sell of their fresh product.

According to available statistics, the country’s Rajshahi division, known for its famed lychees and mangoes, the farmers have already lost 15 percent of their products due to storms.

Haji Delwar Hossain, a wealthy fruit farmer, laughed seeing this correspondent wearing masks and hand gloves, saying “you city people are in trouble … Allah has given us natural protection.”

Going around his lychee garden, he said “we are hardy as we work in scorching sun or rain and thus the virus cannot harm us.”

The few who came from the city, were subjected to mandatory 14-day quarantine and thus Allah saved the villagers from this fearful disease, explained Haji Delwar Hossain.

Mohammad Sabuj Islam, a young fruit trader, had little idea about COVID-19 and wondered why a small virus is scaring people.

“We have no idea about this coronavirus and only saw on television that people are getting sick, while some dying … but it has little affect in our village,” he said, adding that the villagers were physically strong and they did not bother about any disease.

Sabuj has been busy finding gardens of lychees and mangoes selling fallen fruits due to storms for quick shipment to the cities with a budget of taka 500,000.

Many Dhaka residents who left for their villages as soon as the special holiday was declared two months ago, also said that life was comfortable there and not scary or suffocating as in the cities.

“Life in my village is normal, but local residents are alert about anyone entering from the city,” said Faisal Ehmad from his village by telephone.

He added that those who left for their villages were “lucky” as life is almost normal except for some wearing masks or maintaining rare social distances.

This correspondent found total lack of maintaining social distance or rare use of masks in the villages.

All three were of the opinion that city residents must work out in the sun and be hardy to ward off any disease, not only the COVID-19.

Haji Delwar said it was a lot of tension and work which made city residents more vulnerable to different diseases, plus people lived in overcrowded places causing a spread of any disease.

The country is in the 12th week of detecting its first COVID-19 case and crossed 82nd day on Thursday, while the number of deaths and new cases have spiked considerably.

“Fifteen people died and 2,029 new coronavirus infected people were detected in the last 24 hours,” said Prof Dr Nasima Sultana, Additional Director General (administration) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Nadeem Qadir is a senior Bangladeshi journalist and a Dag Hammarskjöld fellow,-