The Financial Express

Ensuring public support for lockdown

| Updated: June 30, 2021 21:27:52

Ensuring public support for lockdown

The alarming rise in the infection rate of Corona virus across the country has forced the government to go for countrywide lockdown. However, the lockdowns on a limited scale have already been in force first in the districts bordering India to combat the escalating rate of Covid-infection cases in those areas. It is feared that the fresh surge of the Covid-19, often described as the second wave of the pandemic attack, is linked to the so-called Delta variant of the Covid virus of Indian origin.

As this strain of the pandemic has been known for its severity, especially high transmissibility, as evidenced from the havoc it recently wreaked on India where it first struck, the government seems to be extra-cautious to avoid the same happening in Bangladesh.  And to add to the woes, we have now yet another version of the Delta, called Delta plus. This latest variant of the Corona virus was learnt to have been first detected in Europe in March. Though information about this new variant of the virus is still sketchy, it may appear in India as the third wave of the pandemic within months, experts fear.  

Such developments regarding the pandemic in our close vicinity is no doubt very concerning. So, there is little room for being lax in the face of these pandemic waves crashing on our shores.   

Against this backdrop, the government imposed some restrictions on the movement of public and private transports across the country from  June 16, which was slated to continue till mid-July. Also, on June 21, the cabinet division, to insulate the capital city from virus transmission from nearby districts, ordered restriction on all vehicular movement in seven adjoining districts. Now has come the decision to extend the lockdown across the whole country following the recommendation of the National Technical Advisory Committee (on Covid-19) (NTAC). But according to the latest decision, while financial institutions will remain open and some other offices will operate on a limited scale till 6 am of  July1, the total countrywide lockdown will commence from Thursday, after 6 am, July 1.

All these are without doubt well-meaning steps from the government to contain the ever-deteriorating pandemic situation in the country. At this point, one needs to take into consideration the way the public responded to the previous instances of lockdown. The experience of the lockdown slapped a few months back during the Eid-ul-Fitr is still fresh in public memory. It was said to be a strict lockdown. However, it could be said to have been a lockdown so far as the movement of long-distance public transports to and from the capital city was concerned. But if putting restriction on the public's movement was one of the objectives of that lockdown, let alone ensuring that they (the public) abide by the health guidelines such as wearing of facemask, then question arises as to how far that lockdown or such other pandemic control measures used earlier were effective.  So, it is believed that the government has taken into due consideration the factors that came in the way of successful implementation of earlier lockdowns or by whatever names they were called. Given the experience, which, after all, was hardly pleasant, the question that naturally arises is how is the government going to make this latest lockdown effective?  The government, however, assured that a large number of police, ansar, BGB and army personnel would enforce the lockdown. Hopefully, the presence of so many security personnel would help implement the lockdown. But the most important element of enforcement  measures meant to ensure public health safety is their spontaneous participation. But that is lacking in every pandemic containment effort made so far. For the day labourers and such kind of extreme poor, living indoors to observelockdown  is impossible unless they have the necessary support from the government. Also, they and other members of the general public need the awareness about the danger that the pandemic poses through a mass awareness programme. In truth, arrangements, if any, to meet the needs of the public in these two areas are insufficient at best and non-existent at worst.

The government would be required to adequately address those needs to draw the necessary public support for its lockdown or any other measure to combat the pandemic.


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