Crowds flee Dhaka prior to strict blockade of Bangladesh

Crowd of people at Dhaka's ferry port

Strict blockade will come into effect on Monday

Before the strict national blockade came into effect, the crowd flocked to Dhaka’s ferry terminal on the second day and left the city.

For seven days starting Thursday, no one in Bangladesh will be able to leave the house except in an emergency.

As a result, people are fleeing the busy capital for town and village homes.

Covid cases in the country are on the rise, many of which are associated with the Delta variant first identified in neighboring India.

The latest wave of viruses in Bangladesh began about six weeks ago. On May 15, 261 new cases and 22 deaths were reported. On Friday, there were 5,869 new cases and 108 deaths. This is the second highest number of deaths per day in the country in the overall pandemic.

Many hospitals, especially those on the border with India, are overwhelmed by patients and have a hard time dealing with them.

The blockade was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, but is now postponed until Thursday. However, officials say some restrictions will continue to come into force on Monday.

Due to the proliferation of incidents, rail and bus services have already been suspended, with the exception of emergency services.

People who want to leave the city have relied on hiring or even walking in their own cars to close transportation.

“Unmanageable” situation

Low-income and day laborers will be hit hardest by the severe blockade, BBC South Asian editor Jill McGibberling reports. Many of the fleeing people are migrant workers trying to get home.

The Dhaka Tribune reported that there were thousands of people in just one ferry terminal, with little or no space in between.

Local traffic police chief Zakir Hossain told the paper that Sunday’s Simria terminal is much more crowded than Saturday and “no one follows the Covid-19 safety protocol.”

AFP press reports that a total of tens of thousands are leaving. At least 50,000 people left the city by ferry on Sunday alone, according to Bangladeshi water officials.

He added that the situation was “out of control”.

Some ferry services operate 24 hours a day and are packed with more than 1,000 passengers per trip.

Deputy police inspector Mohammad Raza told AFP:

A man handing a boy to another man at the ferry port

People are fleeing Dhaka and trying to return to towns and villages

All offices, including government, semi-governmental and private offices, will also be blocked, according to a statement released by the Bangladesh Press and Information Agency (PID).

Health Department spokesman Robert Amin said AFP police and border guards would be deployed to implement the blockade and prevent people from leaving their homes.

He added that troops could be deployed if desired.

“It’s a dangerous and disturbing situation,” he said. “If we don’t contain it now, we’ll face a situation like India.”

The second wave of Covid infection was primarily caused by the Delta variant and devastated India in April and May. The country is starting to reopen, but experts warn that a third wave could be seen in the coming months.

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