Saturday, September 5th, 2020
COMMENTARY: Bangladesh shines proving wrong predictions of huge COVID-19 spike
September 5th, 2020 at 3:42 pm
COMMENTARY: Bangladesh shines proving wrong predictions of huge COVID-19 spike

by Nadeem Qadir in Dhaka

Bangladesh is among the countries attacked by the deadly COVID-19 with predictions by health experts that due to its fragile health sector this South Asian country, the number of people getting infecting with the bug and deaths will be among the highest in the world.

As of 4 September 2020, there have been 26,171,112 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 865,154 deaths worldwide, reported the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In the US confirmed cases stood at 605,444 with 184,614 deaths, while in neighbouring India confirmed cases stood at 3936,47 with 69,561 deaths.

In Bangladesh, on the same date, confirmed cases stood at 321,615 and 4,412 deaths, WHO said.

But, so far these fearful predictions have been proved wrong, thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s able handling of the crisis.

None countered the expert predictions as it had every possibility of coming true due to the high-density per square feet population in a country of 116 million people. Then what went RIGHT?

Map of the world with novel coronavirus – Pixabay photo

In neighbouring India or the US, the cases are jumping despite much better health facilities, but the RIGHT decisions at the RIGHT time by the premier have so far saved the country from falling into a grave situation.

Sheikh Hasina again and again proved her leadership and farsightedness to make Bangladesh a model in many other sectors that has made us proud both at home and abroad.

Travelling to some parts of Bangladesh recently, it was impossible to believe that the country is still not free from coronavirus.

From Sirajganj, to Bogra and finally to Rangpur and beyond to the northern parts I took a journalistic mission, but I was happily surprised to note with great relief that the people had followed prime minister’s guidance to prevent from getting infected by CoVID-19.

People in these small towns and adjacent villages told newsnextbd.com that whoever came to their area from the cities or other towns were home quarantined with the local government health officials alerted for monitoring them. A few who had tried to break the quarantine were pushed back into their homes for 14 days with the help of police as well as members of the army deployed in aid of the civil administration.

Along with them leaders and activists of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League also worked to ensure safety practices against coronavirus.

“It is true that we work in the sun and rain … thus we have an inbuilt strong immunity that made the coronavirus flee our area,” said Sujon Mia, a 26-year-old man in Rangpur. It was echoed by many others in the three districts that I toured.

He added that as per directives of the premier the farmers continued cultivation regularly and local officials briefed them about government incentives due to the virus attack, which encouraged them to be safe but also carry on with their work at the same time..

People crowded on the street a day after the lockdown was lifted – newsnexbd.com photo

I felt good to smell the fresh air of the countryside without any fear of getting infected, which in Dhaka or other major cities is impossible to do. Thus my conclusion is that most of Bangladesh is now free from the deadly bug and if those living in the cities were more cautious we can free the country from this health crisis. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina adviced the people of the country not to fear, but fight off the virus, saying “have confidence and trust that Bangladesh would not bow down to anything like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will not lose to anybody or anything, including COVID-19 pandemic,” she said adding that it is unacceptable to bow down to anything in fear of death as it can come any moment and for different reasons.

Such words of courage helped to boost the morale of the people as they were so scared initially that in a number of cases a person down with the virus was dumped on the road sides by their family members. Sheikh Hasina condemned such inhuman acts in the most strong terms and police swung into action that eventually stopped the repetition of such cruel acts.

Police took actions also against house owners who drove their tenants away on one pretext or the other after the bug spread in the initial days.

Soon after the first case of COVID-19 was detected 8 March 20 in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a 31-point directive to fight the pandemic.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina attends a meeting amid the Covid-19 pandemic

The directives include:  Coronavirus-related treatment measures will have to be taken, and awareness programmes on the issue will have to be implemented,, there is no need for concealment; rather, go to physicians if symptoms of coronavirus surfaces, special priority will have to be given to all doctors, nurses, lab technicians, cleaners, ambulance drivers who are involved in the treatment of Covid-I9, to regularly follow the health code, including washing hands, using masks and maintaining social distance, ensure cleanliness, and all the city corporations, municipalities and upazila parishads across the country will have to strengthen their cleanliness activities, attention should be given to law and order, and all the government officials including that of the Health Services Division, the administration, the law enforcement agencies, the Armed Forces Division will have to continue their work maintaining proper coordination during these hard times nationwide, assistance will have to be given to day labourers, workers and peasants so that they don’t remain unfed, and a separate list of poor working people will have to be prepared, social safety activities is a must, food production system will have to continue, and a greater variety of crops will have to be produced.

Whatever is needed for food security, will have to be done and no land should be kept uncultivated, and the public representatives and upazila administration will distribute food among the distressed people by preparing a ward-based list, special attention will have to be given to the most disadvantaged people like agriculture workers, day labourers, rickshaw- and van-pullers, transport workers, beggars, street children, the women abandoned by their husbands, widows and ‘hijra’ community and providing relief to them will have to be ensured, the farmers will continue cultivation regularly, and in this case government incentives will go on.

Army troops were deployed to ensure social distancing and aid the civil administration to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in Bangladesh

“We triumphed in the 1971 liberation war in fighting enemies shoulder to shoulder … facing this deadly disease is another war,” said a in a national hook up to mark the Independence Day this on 26 March 20, adding that staying indoors at home was the main way to win the war against COVID-19.

Sheikh Hasina having absolute confidence on the members of armed forces in tackling the pandemic, ordered their nationwide deployment, saying “members of the army will extend cooperation to district administration to make the preventive measures effective.”

On the other hand, she focused on the economic aspect of the country knowing that if production and other businesses came to a standstill then many would be unemployed or go hungry.

A comparatively lower number of cases helped the country to run its economic activities in a small way and now in full-swing to strengthen the country’s economy with a drop in our GDP. The special financial packages helped to reverse the situation and re-employment in factories and businesses has resumed.

Several million people living in the major cities have been unemployed since COVID-19 attacked Bangladesh, but steadily doors are re-opening.

Nadeem Qadir is a senior Bangladeshi journalist and writer, and a Dag Hammarskjöld fellow,- photo by newsnextbd.com