Unregulated movement of people worrying
The Coronavirus outbreak has evidently appeared as a Catch - 22 for the lower income and working class peoples in many aspects. Complying with the stay-at-home order to avoid contracting the disease is an ideal case of accepting hunger in exchange of health safety.
The perfect case in point is perhaps the apparel workers. Scores of them come from small towns and villages to work in factories in industrial areas, especially in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Chattogram, and barely make their living, with no savings to survive the crisis. Additionally, government aid does not reach them in urban areas where they are not listed.
Since it becomes increasingly difficult for apparel workers to survive in cities, they try to return to where they have come from outside the cities despite bans on inter-district vehicle movement. Many workers now in Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Dhaka are desperately trying to leave for their home districts through river routes and in trucks carrying goods by highways amidst the shutdown.
Needs be mentioned - ban on the movement of vehicles and river vessels was ordered to contain the spread of COVID-19 with an exception in cases of goods and medical supplies. The directive clearly specified that vehicles or vessels carrying goods cannot carry passengers. Many districts that are in full lockdown should remain so.
However, several hundred brickfield workers have been reported to be leaving Narayanganj as the district was put in complete lockdown on April 9. The law enforcement agencies detained at least 120 people and sent them back to their shanties in Narayanganj. In Munshiganj, it has been reported that the river police detained 77 brickfield workers from Narayanganj when they were on their way to their village homes in Barishal division early Friday.
Such unregulated movement of people, if allowed, may only add further woes to the increasing transmission rate. At least the reported transmission chain established between Narayanganj and Barishal division suggests so. That said - according to Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research provided on Thursday last, there are 25 COVID-19 cases in Barishal most of which were traced back to Narayanganj.
It is now than ever before that the government law enforcement agencies address the unregulated movement of people from one district to another. Moreover, with increasing number of infected rates, it has become essential to strictly regulate all types of free movement of the public throughout the country.
Finally, given the disproportionate rate of law enforcers to control free movement, it is also time to engage sincere and responsible civilians of respective communities and areas in the process. We will have to prevent all types of mass gatherings and social engagements, and we can only do that with joint efforts.