Coronavirus: Social concern & awareness
As a dangerous contagious disease, Coronavirus pandemic has already killed more than 23,067 people globally and the reported victims in this context, has now reached to more than 500,000 affecting 189 countries of the world. Italy and Spain are now the worst affected countries by this highly contagious virus overtaking China where the virus initially originated; Italy's death-fatalities now jumped to 8,215 having 712 in their largest one-day rise since the contagion emerged a month ago. A few other European countries are also similarly struggling with criticality and at this stage; United States has also not been spared from the race. This virus has no borders and we have to express our solidarity with all victims of the world consoling them as far as possible.
Under this situation, each day brings us a panic-horror for all of us and meanwhile, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has already expressed his great concern over the situation indicating it as "new and tragic milestone", where everybody will have to be very cautious in controlling the disease. Although older people are most victims, but the younger people are also not spared from it, and for that reason, Tedros had already warned the young people saying that 'please note that nobody is invincible in this disease as this virus could even put the young people in hospital for weeks or even kill them any time'.
Bangladesh is the most densely populated country of the world and many of us are quite ignorant about the disease with an attitude of carelessness about any situation except having a tendency of hoarding goods and commodities with a very selfish attitude creating problems for others. These people do not even have slightest understanding that God forbids, if there is any outbreak of the massacre in our country, the hoarded food will never save them from the calamity. Instead of being so selfish, they should better be cautious in creating social awareness about the situation which may keep everyone well and good.
Our Prime Minister is continuously monitoring the situation which is reflected in her speech for the nation on 25 March. In her speech, prime minister had requested everyone not to panic of the situation and also at the same time, not to procure any essential item more than a person need, as it creates problems for the market. As per Government announcement, we have enough food and essential items in our stock in the country, what we have to do, is simply to allow them flowing smooth in the market and keep it rolling under this critical situation.
Being further concerned about the situation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina discussed the coronavirus matter with the President at the Bangabhaban just before the Independence Day, and having realized the implications of any mass gathering, the Government has already cancelled all Independence Day events including programmes at the National Memorial in Savar, and all other related ceremonies over the coronavirus outbreak. The decision of deployment of army and keeping the offices closed for about two weeks is also very much timely and praiseworthy step.
As recently as a week ago, Former Mayor of Dhaka, Mr. Sayeed Khokon invited the WHO experts at his place asking them to suggest as to what we should do at this critical juncture and the WHO suggested him to adopt social distancing as one of the most fruitful strategies for Bangladesh in tackling the present situation in the country. Any mass gathering at this time is to be avoided; and in their everyday life, each person should keep a certain distance from the other so that contagion does not affect anyone.
Taiwan has been quite successful in adopting this strategy to save their people and although initially, it was predicted by many that being geographically contiguous to China they would be the second worst victim of the circumstances. But it did not happen as it was thought, because of their special strategies which allowed them to keep the situation at a tolerable stage. Being so nearer to China, Taiwan remarkably has so far detected 49 incidences of corona cases, and there is only one death. At first, they adopted the strategy of detecting the victims and as soon as the patient is detected, Taiwan Health Department right away took him to isolation making special quarantine for him.
Taiwan Government also collected through National Health Insurance Administration and Immigration Agency a full record of the travellers having data on their visit of places in the last fourteen days and thus took plans accordingly for their safety. Using mask in the mass transport was a compulsion; everybody avoided sneezing, kept distance to each other, and isolation was maintained very strictly. We also have been advised to abide by our restrictions and it is our moral obligation to follow these strategies properly; otherwise, the victim is the nation.
It is reported that we have 50 persons staying in institutional-quarantine and among the foreign returnees, a total of 14,264 are detected to staying in home-quarantine. It is expected that all these identified persons are following their rules as good persons; contrarily, there will be a severe massacre in our public life. There should be a strict monitoring of them ascertaining as to whether they are abiding by the rules properly.
It is to be mentioned that corona situation in Bangladesh might even be severe and worst in the country if proper protection is not taken. Bangladesh has cut down its air connectivity with 10 countries on Saturday amid fears of the virus outbreak and just today, the authorities also have banned the arrivals of foreigners through eleven land ports with India.
The problem is that we have some bad courtesy of sternutation; many of us even do not know as to how to sneeze politely and gently without spreading germs and virus surrounding us. I remember just a few days earlier, our prime minister casually and very informally once in a meeting was showing us the way to hide the face from others, while sneezing. Can we maintain all these courtesies in our life? We always keep on polluting our environment; littering, spitting and urinating on the streets and walls are very common phenomena in our towns and cities. People throw and pile up garbage anywhere and everywhere without having any sense of awareness.
While walking on the streets, we always inhale some bad smells from our surrounding which not only affect our health, it also simultaneously spoils the environment. I understand that we should immediately implement Singaporean laws to save ourselves, where punishment for such activities is just immediate. Malaysia has now called in the army after some people continued to defy the restrictions imposed on Wednesday; the Defense Minister said in a briefing after the deployment started at noon yesterday. Proper imposition of the laws is the indicator of democracy and showing respect to democracy and human rights, is to implement the laws.
Dr A H M Zehadul Karim is a former Vice Chancellor of a public university in Bangladesh. At present, he is working as a Professor of Anthropology at Jagannath University, Dhaka.