Bangladesh lifts blockade to celebrate and irritates professionals

Dhaka, Bangladesh (AP) —Mohammed Nijam, an unemployed construction worker waiting for hundreds of travelers to board a ferry from the Bangladesh capital, knew there was a risk of catching the coronavirus. I felt it was even more dangerous to stay in Dhaka, where another blockade was imminent. ..

“I have to pay monthly rent when I don’t have a job,” he added, adding that the landlord was bothering him for money, even though he was struggling just to feed himself. “I would rather go to my village house and live my life as God forgave me.”

Nijam is one of the shopping and travel of tens of millions of Bangladeshi people this week during an eight-day suspension controversial over a strict coronavirus blockade in a country where the government allows the Islamic festival Eid al-Adha. It is one. The pause was panned by health professionals who warned that the ongoing surge caused by the highly contagious delta mutant first detected in neighboring India could be exacerbated.

“While healthcare providers are exhausted, there is already a shortage of beds and ICUs,” said Be-Nazir Ahmed, a public health expert and former director of government health. It would be nearly impossible for the hospital to deal with the crisis when patients come. “

Due to the spread of the virus, almost all of Bangladesh was ordered to be shut down on July 1 from market to mass transit. Soldiers and border guards patrol the streets, and thousands were arrested and sent to jail for violating the blockade.

However, despite the new restrictions, virus deaths are about 200 per day and infections per day are about 11,000, both of which are considered to be underestimated. On Sunday, 225 deaths and 11,758 infections were reported.

Despite expert warnings and over 4 million of the country’s 160 million people have been fully vaccinated, the government has set all restrictions from July 15 to 23. Has been lifted and everything will be resumed so that people can celebrate the festival. It usually benefits the economy.

“But in all situations, people need to be vigilant, use face masks and strictly follow health instructions,” said a government policy statement.

Government officials have not responded to criticism of the move. A ministry official who issued an order to suspend the blockade introduced a policy statement to the Associated Press when asked to comment. No phone calls or emails were returned to the Ministry of Health spokesperson.

Deputy Secretary of State Farhad Hossein told local media on Saturday that the blockade needs to be eased as many businesses revolve around festivals.

As a result, the capital has attracted people rushing to malls and markets for holiday shopping, and to harbors and bus stops on their way to their rural hometowns.

During the last major Islamic festival in May, an estimated 10 million of Dhaka’s 20 million inhabitants left to celebrate with their families. Similar numbers may travel this week, especially as many, like construction workers Nijam, may be looking to wait for the next blockade in their village.

Among the many people shopping in Dhaka’s New Market was dental technician Shah Alam.

“Our government has eased the situation for a few days and we are on the market to buy the products we need. We are trying to follow health and safety guidelines,” Alam said.

Health expert Ahmed said the virus was blocked as urban people spread the virus to villages and spread it while people stuffed it into markets for shopping, especially the cattle market that millions of people buy. Animals sacrificed for Eid al-Adha who said they believe there is a major risk of suspending the virus.

“Perhaps there are hundreds of thousands of cattle markets across the country, from remote villages to cities, and cattle sellers and other business people come primarily from rural areas, and perhaps they have the virus. I’ll bring it in, “he says. Said.

He estimates that 30-40 million people will gather for prayer in mosques and fields across the country for the festival on Wednesday.

“The Eid congregation will be a major event,” he said.

He said the month following the festival would be an important time for a country that has already recorded nearly 1.1 million infectious diseases and nearly 18,000 pandemic deaths.

“We may not really be able to avoid a catastrophic situation,” he said.


Associated Press video journalist Al-emrun Garjon contributed to this report.

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