Those decision makers who have thought that allowing people to go to their homes to celebrate Eid may not be so risky live in a fool’s paradise
It seems the lethal deadly coronavirus has taken a break assuring us that it would not infect people during the Eid holidays. Supposedly, it would also go on Eid vacation.
Otherwise, why would the police all of a sudden lift the check posts at the exit points of Dhaka from Friday midnight, allowing people to leave the capital in hordes for their village homes to celebrate Eid?
Prudently enough, in early April, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police had set up check posts at the exit and entry points of the capital to restrict entry to and exit from the city.
Effectiveness of the measure was always questionable. Thousands of people were seen in hordes at the ferry ghats waiting to cross the rivers. They reached there dodging the police check posts anyhow they could. This is our own unique model of enforcing the so very vital lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
But now the police came up with the most ridiculous decision. It has removed the check posts, meaning there is no restrictions on leaving and entering the capital.
So we are waiting to see a fresh exodus ahead of the Eid. We all are going to celebrate Eid. We are least bothered about the risk of spreading the virus among others by mingling with our dear friends and relatives.
Those who made the decision to allow the free-for-all Eid celebration must know something that the medical experts or the epidemiologists or the WHO does not.
We see that the global health agency and professional epidemiologists have been repeating the same advice for more than three months that maintaining social distancing is an effective non-pharmaceutical measure to contain the spread of the virus. Based on their advice, many countries such as the USA, the UK, Italy, France and India had enforced stringent lockdowns restricting people's movement. The lockdown measures had brought their economies to a standstill causing a global economic recession.
Yet, they are not confident that they have been successful in containing the virus. They are still hesitant to reopen their factories, offices and shops fearing a second wave of infections.
Maintaining this strict physical distancing has been a new normal in some countries. In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was rejected by a café a few days ago because it did not have the space to ensure social distancing.
However, it seems, our police force and our policymakers are way more liberal and socially compassionate. They do not hesitate to change their decisions at their sweet will. They can not be harsh to enforce stringent restrictions on people's movement.
However, the latest decision by the police looks discriminatory as the policy favours only the rich.
Mahmuda Afroz Lucky, additional deputy commissioner of Darus Salam zone, said people now can go to their village homes by their own or private vehicles or any other means, but public transport will remain suspended as before.
This means if you have your own car, you are now free to enter and exit the capital. If you are poor with no personal vehicles, you will have to suffer the absence of mass transports.
It may sound ridiculous as to the discriminatory nature of the law enforcers' decisions for home goers ahead of Eid but let there be no illusions as to the egalitarian nature of our society.
Those decision-makers who have thought that allowing people to go to their homes to celebrate Eid may not be so risky live in a fool's paradise.
The health experts' warning that free movement of people and opening of factories and shops increased the risk of spreading the virus has become true as the numbers of case and death are spiking every day with no sign of the curve getting flattened.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque himself questioned the decision of allowing the reopening of factories and shops. He fears reopening businesses, restaurants and garment factories has put people at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
Those who are now leaving the capital will return here after the Eid holidays. Only God knows how many of them are carrying the virus as asymptotic carriers and infecting others on their way homes.
Those who carry the virus will spread it among others in their village homes. And will do the same when they return to Dhaka after celebrating Eid. Health experts have already warned that the infection may spike further after Eid. None should forget that our health care is unable to handle a large number of patients.
We are, in fact, in the dark about the real scenario of the virus due to low testings. Yet, by allowing factories and business to reopen and letting people travel in hordes, we have opted for committing a massive self-inflicted harm that we cannot afford in the time of a global pandemic.
The only thing left for us to say now is: May Allah protect us all.