In the wake of Covid-19 ‘fatigue’ as reflected in poor preparedness to combat the second wave of the pandemic, a civic group on Monday called for enforcing ‘smart lockdown’ classifying hotspots of infections.
Presenting a five-point action agenda, Healthy Bangladesh recommended disseminating new message for engaging all people in addressing both health and economic challenges of the Covid-19, instead of a ‘top-down bureaucratic approach’ as witnessed in the past one year.
“Better preparedness is not seen whereas corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency have been exposed... Credibility of the health ministry is seriously questioned,” convener of the group, economist Hossain Zillur Rahman observed during a virtual briefing on ‘Combatting Covid-19 Second Wave: Immediate Action Plan Required’.
The action plan proposes smart lockdown considering metropolitan Dhaka as the epicentre of the second wave, followed by Chattogram and other high-transmission urban areas and upazila centres and villages for applying varying degrees of restrictions.
“New restrictions are bound to have adverse economic impacts, especially on the low income population and the informal economy. It is essential to both lessen the economic suffering and provide temporary assistance,” reads the action plan, which adds that in Dhaka and other megacities, it is crucial to increase manifold distribution of essentials by state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
In view of the escalating health risks, the action plan recommends that the government can acquire the treatment facilities of 2-3 thousand beds of private hospitals for at least three months in transmission-prone areas including megacities.
“Infection rate is galloping. Youth too are vulnerable. The fragile economic recovery is facing the spectre of another meltdown,” said Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman reading out the action plan.
He regretted that a year of living under the pandemic shadow has induced a response ‘fatigue’ all across society. “Even when warning signs had begun to appear over the horizon, combating covid-19 had clearly slipped in government’s priorities and attention,” the economist added.
The action plan emphasises that the Infectious Diseases Act 2018 should be activated and current tendency to use Expert Advisory Committee only for token purposes and in a highly discretionary manner has to be reversed.
“Collective effort is the only way out of this crisis. Let us all become more aware, more responsible. Let us wear masks, wash hands, avoid unnecessary travel/movement. Let us be empathetic towards one another,” Mr Zillur Rahman concluded.