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RMG owners create public health risk keeping factories open

Published : Thursday, 9 April, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 259

Despite getting the government's incentive package to keep the country's readymade garments (RMG) sector functional during and after the coronavirus pandemic, huge number of RMG factories were seen open during the lockdown period violating the government decision to keep the factories shut to contain spreading of the deadly virus.
At the same time, a section of RMG factory owners haven't yet paid the salaries and other allowances of their workers and employees even after getting the government support. Most of them have kept factories shut without paying dues and current salaries of their workers.
In this situation, the RMG may create unwanted unrest during the lockdown period. It may help spreading the deadly virus more across the country including Dhaka and other cities.
Many health experts and representative of civil society have already blamed the RMG sector for failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak as mass epidemic after thousands of RMG workers gatherings in the city on Sunday amid lockdown in the city and across the country.
According to witnesses, more than one hundred RMG factories in Dhaka, Ashulia and Narayanganj areas, which are not involved with preparing personal protective equipment (PPE) or facemasks, were kept open from April 5 last violating the government decision and World Health Organisations (WHO) health directives.
Their workers and management members are not abiding by the directives of social distancing and health safety measures in the factories. Although the managements of the factories have been violating the government decision, no one - neither the law enforcement agencies, nor the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) - are taking any steps.
As a result, the health experts and authorities concerned have been apprehending mass Corona epidemic across the country in the upcoming days.
Besides, many health experts and representative of civil society think that the coronavirus outbreak has turned as mass epidemic after thousands of garment workers gatherings in the city on Sunday amid the government's lockdown in the city and across the country.
They firmly believe that both of the measures, either social distancing or keeping personal health hygienic measures were ignored by RMG workers that intensified the situation.  
The available data on Sunday shows that the number of infected coronavirus cases were only eight but the next day on Sunday the number turned as 70 and after gradually the number is increasing.
The fact of increasing number of coronavirus cases were clearly visible that the arrival of RMG workers in the city was responsible for causing such mass epidemic in the city and many parts of the country said physician Dr ABM Abdullah.
"The garment workers return to Dhaka has exposed the country to a greater risk of spreading of the virus, now we could see the consequences," he said.
Now gradually the spread of the deadly coronavirus is taking serious turn as fourth stage and the numbers of infection cases are rising alarmingly.
Talking about the situation, Dr Lelin Chowdhury said that a large number of RMG workers came to Dhaka city without taking any protection that causes transmitting coronavirus in various part of the city and country as well.
 "We have seen the changes as the number of infected patients becomes doubled within 24 hours just after the appearance of the RMG workers in the city. Now there is no doubt that the RMG workers' entrance is responsible for this cause," he said.   
It is needed to mention here that the government has lock down the city till April 9 and later realizing the situation it has extended the shutdown till April 14 to combat community transmission of the deadly Covid-19.
But the country's apex trade body of the apparel sector has order all the RMG workers to join the factories on Sunday.
Knowing this notice all the RMG workers from different parts of the country came to Dhaka and adjacent of the city where the factories located but by the time the body withdrew the order at midnight.
However, thousands of RMG workers got trapped in the city and were exposed to transmission of the coronavirus infection.
Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services Prof Dr Abul
Kalam Azad on Monday said at a press conference that the virus was no longer confined to one place in the country rather various parts of the country. Expressing deep anger on the decision of the RMG workers in the factories amid this outbreak, Nazma Akter, president of the Sammilito Garments Sramik Federation, said that she was surprised seeing the extreme inhuman characteristics within the factories owners.   
"As we know that they (the factory owners) hardly threat them as human. But we had expected a little bit more mercy during this crisis. We know the current condition inside of the factories.  There is no facility for safe hand washing, use of mask and sanitiser and drinking water at most garment factories.
Demanding punishment she said that the respective owners of the factories must be brought to justice as they bear the responsibility of throwing the whole country's people to the risk of infection.

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