Dhaka – Army Chief General Aziz Ahmed has said the forces will do everything possible to save the people in the face of Covid-19 attack and would remain deployed as long as the government wants.
The army chief made these comments to the daily sun newspaper on Friday, three days after the army troopers fanned out across Bangladesh to assist the civil administration to prevent the spread of the deadly virus and ensure social distancing in crowded localities amid the global pandemic of new coronavirus.
“The army will do everything possible under the prudent leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to fight the virus,” Ahmed told the newspaper.
“Army will render service in aid to Civil Power as long as the government wants,” he added.
The government on Monday decided to deploy the armed forces to assist the local administration when the time of global pandemic has left more than 28,000 people dead and infected over 500,000 people worldwide.
The virus, first detected on March 8 in Bangladesh, infected a total of 48 people and left five people dead so far. The government has taken multi-pronged approaches to contain the virus’ spread.
“The common people, including the civil administrations, are highly energized and seem to be mentally relieved due to army presence and assistance to fight coronavirus threats,” the army chief was quoted as saying by the daily sun newspaper, Bangladesh’s second most circulated English publication.
“Insha Allah (God willing translates the Arabic words in English), army men will do their best.”
The forces —- army, navy and air force —- fanned out across Bangladesh and have enforced a government order for all to stay indoors alongside restricting nationwide public transports, shutting schools and businesses.
Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Ibne Zaid, the defence spokesman, separately said that some 3,000 men from the army and 400 from the Navy have been deployed, while the air force is on standby for ferrying men and medical aid to any part of Bangladesh.
“The public has been helping troops on the streets by obeying their orders to stay indoors and keeps businesses shut as per the government ban orders,” he told the daily.
They have been working with “humanity in mind” so that people like rickshaw-pullers who live by the day do not suffer.
Lt. Col. Zaid, director of the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate, pointed out that those men who are deployed “will also respond to medical emergencies if needed.”
Asked how are the men and women in uniform were protected from the virus, he said, “these personnel are risking their lives leaving their families behind to help the nation in this moment of crisis … periodically new batches will replace the old, who will be quarantined on return to their barracks for safety.”
The army men were seen patrolling the streets of cities and towns, which local residents said will go a long way in helping the government efforts to contain and finally defeat the deadly coronavirus.
There is no known remedy against the virus, which first appeared in China in December have now been wreaking havoc in Europe and America.
The decision of army deployment was welcomed across the board.
The 200,000-strong Bangladesh armed forces, which the Global Firepowers’ 2019 Military Strength ranking named as third most powerful in South Asia, has been modernised by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also hold the defence portfolio, over the past decade.
The armed forces have also been called in the past in this calamity-prone South Asian country, especially during floods and cyclones in aid of the civil administration.
They have also joined rescue operations after some manmade disasters like the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013 in Savar.