The Financial Express

Meeting pandemic-caused emergencies  

Published: March 27, 2020 22:10:20 | Updated: March 29, 2020 22:39:32

Meeting pandemic-caused emergencies   

In its war against the global pandemic Covid-19, the government's announcement of 10-point instruction and 10 days' holiday from March 26 to April 04 as part of a containment strategy could not have come a day later. Social distancing is pivotal to containing the virus from further spread but the two-day window for transport operation since the announcement has allowed movement of people from the capital to the outlying areas. This calls for the preventative and treatment measures to be dispersed. An all-out national galvanisation both at the government and public level is the need of the hour. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emphasised all aspects of national preparedness in her speech.   

Considering the devastating social and economic impacts of Covid-19 on the countries already stricken by it, it is time Bangladesh mobilised all the resources at its disposal to combat the menace which is still unfolding with no antidote in sight. The armed forces have been deployed in assistance of the civilian authority across the country. Needless to say, the government keeps its antenna high to draw on the best experiences and practices from other nations in their fight against this global pandemic having due regard for our contextual realities.  Here the citizen's responsibilities for abiding by the do's and dont's at the individual and household levels acquire pivotal importance.

The government's stress on what it termed 'social distancing,' instead of outright 'lockdown', which is being widely practised in other countries to keep people away from freely associating, gathering, forming crowds and so on is a case in point. By whatever name one may call it, what is most urgent is that such measures have to be enforced strictly. Experiences of China and South Korea, for example, have amply demonstrated good results of such strict enforcement. At this point, our experience with individuals put under quarantine after they returned from   abroad deserves special handling. Thankfully, through locking down some areas and penalising errant individuals, due containment measures have been taken by the government to avert any undesirable situations.    

The government's imposition of restrictions on social, cultural and religious gatherings throughout the country has been a step in the right direction.  The point is to make all-out efforts to ensure strict observance of the ban.  Similarly, the decision to suspend the movement of all public transports including train, bus, launch, steamer and domestic flights from the capital to the districts is expected to reduce the risk of further spread of the virus, only if underpinned by full measure of household cooperation with the authorities.

While arrangement of an adequate number of testing kits to identify virus-infected individuals remains the most urgent need, one would like to have faith in the government's repeated assurances in this regard. Even so, the authorities would do well if those testing kits are also made available at the district and upazila level hospitals, clinics and health complexes to ensure prompter response to the emergencies whenever and wherever they may arise. 

All concerned must keep their cool in the face of unfolding of this menace and not panic and be fully seized with the necessity of dealing with the preventive and treatment aspects of Covid-19. The authorities also need to focus on protecting doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals at the country's hospitals, clinics and upazila health complexes. Since they are also the most exposed ones to virus, there is a very high stake in providing them with the protective gears, i.e. the PPEs.

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