A good number of citizens called upon the government on Wednesday to immediately impose an effective nationwide lockdown, except for emergency services, to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
A group of 343 citizens, including university teachers, students, lawyers, journalists and activists, in a statement came up with the demand along with some others to save mass people from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University, Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, Prof Gitiara Nasreen and Tanzimuddin Khan of Dhaka University, and Nusrat S Chowdhury, Associate Professor of Amherst College, USA, signed the statement, among others.
They made the demand, citing the intensifying numbers of COVID-19-related casualty and infection. They said experts fear large-scale fatality, if effective lockdown is not imposed and proper strategy is not taken in this regard.
Besides, the citizens called on the government to shut public transports, including inter-district buses, and criticised the recent 60 per cent fare hike in public transports.
They asked the government to ensure food and financial assistance for needy people, who became unemployed during the pandemic and lockdown across the country.
Their statement also demanded ensuring salary and payment of all workers in factories as well as of public and private service holders, and stopping termination in the time of pandemic. It suggested taking a strategy on dealing with situation after easing the lockdown.
The citizens' group also emphasised increasing the number of sample testing to detect coronavirus infection across the country, increasing healthcare facilities for people, and taking necessary steps to set up labs and necessary facilities in public universities.
Besides, they also called upon the government to give approval to the rapid testing kit, invented by a Bangladeshi scientist at Gonoshasthaya Kendra, and make its trial result public.
Apart from the public hospitals, the private sector hospitals with 50-bed facility should be engaged for providing treatment to coronavirus patients, the statement added, underlining ensuring healthcare facility to about one million Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar.
It criticised the government's announcement of 'general holiday' instead of imposing effective lockdown - since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Bangladesh on March 08.
Besides, the decision of reopening garment factories in April helped to spread the virus infection rapidly, and easing restriction before Eid-ul-Fitr also intensified the outbreak further.