The Financial Express

Can cut-off Dhaka contain Covid-19 spread?

| Updated: June 25, 2021 22:17:24

Can cut-off Dhaka contain Covid-19 spread?

The much neglected, if not maligned, lockdown has got off to a reverse course. Earlier, the concern was to stop coronavirus's spread from the centre to the country's periphery. Now the attempt is to stop invasion of the Indian Delta variant from the fur-flung areas. With this aim in view, a lockdown has been simultaneously imposed on seven districts of Dhaka Division. In fact, the districts Gazipur, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Madaripur, Rajbari and Gopalganj have not at all reported any high incidence of Covid-19 cases. A closer look at the geographic location is enough to give one the impression that the measure has been taken to plug all the entry routes to the capital city. All the seven districts' locations are all around the Dhaka city. Since all long-haul buses and launches have been barred from moving into the city from and across those districts and train service also suspended later on, Dhaka is likely to be cut off from the rest of the country.

Now the question is, will it be enough to arrest the spread of the virus? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, because the measure will stop fresh carriers of the pathogen provided it is enforced religiously, which has not happened so far. People have taken long treks or hired unlikely passenger-carrying vehicles such as trucks, micro buses, covered vans, motor cycles and three wheelers to move to and from the capital city. Lockdowns here never were true to what is meant by the term. If this happens this time as well, the answer will be in the negative. Then again, the alarming rise in cases in some of the border districts was not handled the way it should have been. When cases were reported near or above 50 per cent of the tests, there was a need for putting those areas under the strictest of lockdowns. This was not done. By this time, people have moved to and from those areas and no contact tracing has been done. In China and Vietnam this was done so rigorously even in border regions that they could easily curb the spread of the disease successfully.

The rationale behind isolating the central part of the country in order to protect it from fresh invasion by the disease is understandable. But was it not more appropriate to confine the pandemic to areas where it is on the rampage right now? Then the neighbouring districts such as Barishal, Patuakhali, Kustia, Pabna, Natore and other such districts within the close proximity of the highly infected border areas were better candidates for sealing their borders off with their contagious neighbours. Again, vehicles used for emergency service and carrying goods from across the infected areas should have been brought under strict health protocols.

Clearly, the authorities could take such measures aimed at containing the spread of the Indian variant much earlier. After all, the example of the pathetic Indian pandemic scene should have prompted them to be particularly strict in enforcing stern actions. Even the slightest laxity exacts heavy price when a virulent virus like Covid-19's Indian strain is concerned. India has been warned of a third wave of the pandemic with the detection of Delta Plus variant. Let the lockdown be true to its unambiguous nature everywhere with all the supportive systems in order.


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