Coronavirus — Frustration, Anxiety Amid Lockdown Across Bangladesh

  • At first, many people in Bangladesh, including doctors, did not take the virus seriously.
  • Panic and anxiety about coronavirus have now spread throughout society.
  • It would not be an exaggeration to call Dhaka a city of beggars now.

The whole world is going through an unimaginable situation. Bangladesh is no exception. The spread of coronavirus has been so fast, many people in Bangladesh could not have imagined it. The picture that experts are giving about the spread of coronavirus in Bangladesh is startling, and the number of victims and deaths is increasing by leaps and bounds every day.

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Bangladesh in March 2020. As of 21 May 2020, there have been a total of 28,511 confirmed cases in the country, with 5,602 recoveries and 408 deaths.

Of course, the final stage of the infection has not come yet. That being said, the final outbreak of the coronavirus could come in June or July. But in the meantime, the number of victims is close to 30,000. The death toll has exceeded 400.

In January, when China fought hard to prevent coronavirus infection, Bangladesh relied heavily on it. Also, Europe and America did not bother about it at all. Many people in Bangladesh have laughed at this virus. Many have made various jokes blaming China’s “eating habits.”

Many well-known doctors in Bangladesh have said loudly that coronavirus infection will not happen because the temperature in the country is high. However, within three months, a different picture was seen.

Panic and anxiety about coronavirus have spread throughout society. The government has declared a general holiday from March 26, anticipating the dire situation. All institutions were closed.

Many did not think that the duration of this general holiday would exceed two months. The period of the public holiday has been extended till May 30, but there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet. Coronavirus infection is found in at least 15 percent of the tests being done every day in Bangladesh. Experts are not optimistic about the sudden decline in this rate.

Abu Jamil Faisal, one of the health ministry’s advisers on COVID-19, told reporters, “the infection could increase. There is not much to determine with this percentage. If it continues at this rate, the infection will last a long time.”

Panic, anxiety, and frustration

It would not be an exaggeration to call Dhaka a city of beggars now. Long queues of beggars can be seen anywhere in Dhaka city now. It is doubtful whether anyone has ever seen such a beggar before.

If you go to any super shop, grocery store, or raw market in the city, you will be surrounded by beggars. Beggars are seen sitting in front of almost every house in the elite areas of the city, including Gulshan, Banani, Dhanmondi, and Uttara.

“Even in middle-class areas, beggars are overwhelmed. Many times I have to return home in the middle of the night for my professional work. Hundreds of beggars were seen sitting at various places on Airport Road in Dhaka at midnight. Not all of them always beg. Many of these beggars are rickshaw pullers, transport workers, or housemaids,” Faisal said.

Dhaka is the capital and the largest city of Bangladesh. It is the ninth-largest, and the sixth-most densely populated city in the world, with a population of 21,006,000 people in the Greater Dhaka Area.

The so-called lockdown in Bangladesh has shown that most of the people in this country are dependent on their daily income. If one day there is no income, many people are forced to beg on the streets. Whenever there is a crisis in Bangladesh, the garment workers come first. As much as there is talk of their livelihood, there is not so much talk of other workers.

The question is whether anyone has thought about the transport workers, rickshaw pullers, automobile mechanics, and others who have been forced to take to the streets due to the lockdown. Not only that, the condition of those who make their living by running various small shops in the city is also deplorable.

Feroz Ahmed runs a small laundry in Mirpur, Dhaka. Normally, his monthly income was around Rs 20,000. But in the last two months of the lockdown, he could not earn even 500 rupees.

“People have not been allowed to iron clothes since the coronavirus came. It has been shut down. I have been selling vegetables for a few days after closing the shop. It is not sold at that time. There are no people,” said Mr. Ahmed.

Relief activities have been carried out by the government and private initiatives since the lockdown began. This activity is, as they say, a lot like a dot in the Indus: insignificant compared to the need. In this case, poor people are getting predominance, but what about the middle class?

Meanwhile, no one is watching. Depending on the monthly salary, those who used to run the family, their lives are now coming to a standstill.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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