Dhaka, Bangladesh
Eerie silence in a bustling megacity

World in woes amid invasion by corona pandemic

Eerie silence in a bustling megacity

News Special:

An eerie silence has descendent upon
one of the most overpopulated and
bustling cities on earth not because
of any war but because of the dread
of an unknown enemy no less horrific
than a war.

Under a government order for a
countrywide shutdown in the wake of
invasion by the global pandemic,
most people of Dhaka, the capital of
Bangladesh, locked themselves into
their houses fearing the possible
infection of novel coronavirus
(COVID-19), reports Saiful Anam,
News Today staff writer.

Reports from rural areas said
villages also look deserted with
people keeping indoors on their own
or for police and army patrol
hemming them in.

''Every home has TV set and they
see corona situations in different
countries, including America and
Italy, and staying at home in
fear,'' said MA Razzak, a former
district correspondent of a news
agency, from a Rajshahi village over
phone.

As city-dwellers followed self-
quarantine, army personnel along
with other law- enforcing-agency
members were patrolling the streets
and highways to ensure that people
stay home in such a situation.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in
her address to the nation on
Wednesday urged the countrymen to
stay at home to stop the spread of
this virus.

The capital city was virtually
deserted as the plying of all mass
transports has halted across the
country to avert the spread of the
deadly virus.

Following the government’s
decision, all the avenues and roads
in the capital including the small
roads are now out of vehicles
including the three-wheelers, even
the rickshaws could hardly be seen.

Offices, business houses, markets
and shopping malls except pharmacies
and groceries also remained closed
while people are hardly seen walking
on foot on the roads.

Particularly in areas like Purana
Paltan, Zero Point, Kakrail,
Motijheel, Khilgaon, Tikatuli and
Malibagh where people gather all the
time, day and night, were virtually
empty. A few people were seen trying
to buy their essentials or waiting
for any mode of transport to go home
quickly.

Like the other countries of the
globe, Bangladesh is also
experiencing the spread of COVID-19
and the government has already
declared general holiday till April
4 to check the spread of this virus.

The mass road transports halted
Friday while communications through
river ways, railways and airways
were shut earlier, having only ferry
operations on a limited scale, for
which the roads and highways turned
into a deserted state.

At Friday Jumaa congregations
fewer devotees turned up.

From Friday, no bus has left the
terminals from Sayedabad, Mohakhali,
Jatrabari, Fulbaria and Gabtoli in
the capital while the transport
workers of these terminals are
passing their time idly. Many of
those transport workers have already
left the capital while the rest are
staying at the terminals and cooking
themselves.

Sayedabad Inter-District Bus
Owners' Association President Abul
Kalam said not a single bus left the
terminal Friday and there was no
passenger here.

“Such situation was never created
in the past and the transport
workers of our terminal are passing
their time idly. Now I have made
arrangement for their cooking and
food.”

Earlier on March 24, Road
Transport and Bridges Minister and
Awami League General Secretary
Obaidul Quader in a video message
announced that all sorts of mass
transports would remain shut from
March 26.

Novel coronavirus continues to
take its toll on the world with more
than 5,32,9090 cases of infection
and 24,093 deaths as of the time of
filing this report.

Bangladesh has so far reported 48
cases and five deaths. But many fear
things may deteriorate quickly
mainly due to densely populated
localities, a lack of hygiene and a
poor healthcare system.

Public health experts said the
reportedly low number of detected
cases was a result of limited
testing facilities.

The IEDCR, the lone authority to
do the tests so far, has carried out
924 tests so far, partly due to a
shortage of kits. It, however, has
started de-centralizing the testing
facilities.

In its fight against the Covid-19
outbreak, the government recently
announced a 10-day shutdown and
suspended all passenger transport
services. It also closed down public
and private offices.

Schools, colleges and other
educational institutions are also
closed till April 9.

The government asked the people to
stay indoors and maintain social
distancing. People were requested to
go out only for emergency purposes,
like buying groceries or medicines.

Hospitals, drugstores and other
emergency services, meanwhile,
remain open. Ambulances, vehicles
carrying food and newspaper and
cargo vessels are also out of the
restrictions.

But, before the shutdown came into
effect, people in droves left the
city for their native homes,
ignoring the government advice to
stay home and exposing themselves to
the risk of contracting the virus
and spreading it to others.

At different signals and roads of
the city Friday, vehicles, including
police cars and ambulances, were
seen moving very cautiously.

Police put up barricades on many
points to check whether more than
two people were travelling on one
vehicle.

Police personnel and Dhaka city
corporation staffers were seen
asking people to go home and not to
move around in groups.

"The reason for this stillness of
the city is that people in their
thousands have left it while the
others preferred to stay indoors,"
said one person, who went to Karwan
Bazar kitchen market to buy
groceries. He was wearing gloves and
face mask to protect himself from
coronavirus infection.

Many also woke up to the fact that
they were left with no job during
the 10-day shutdown. A large number
of people in the city live from hand
to mouth, depending on their daily
income for survival.

A government relief recipe was yet
to reach the target groups, sources
said, stressing the need for a more
dynamic emergency-time delivery
system as traditional ones cannot
function effectively in such
'wartime'.

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