Afraid that Helal has coronavirus, neighbours have stopped communicating with his family
Helal Shikdar came back to his village in Barishal hoping that known faces and the environment would help him recover from the mental torment he underwent in China due to the coronavirus epidemic.
But the irony of fate was that his very neighbours inflicted more sufferings upon him.
Helal, 25, returned from a Shanghai university in China on February 1. No sooner had he reached his home than a rumour spread over his alleged coronavirus infection.
Paying heed to the gossip, his neighbours stopped all communications with Helal and his family.
Even though several medical tests undertaken by Helal in both Bangladesh and China declared him negative for the deadly virus, nothing worked in his favour. He has been living a life of a stranger.
Helal went to study in Shanghai in 2015. He is now a 10th-semester student of medical science.
After he tested negative for coronavirus in China, his university allowed him to return to Bangladesh.
But local people continue avoiding Helal and his family to remain "safe" from the infection of the deadly virus that killed 722 globally as of Friday.
"They even believe that they might get infected if they talk to me. They also stopped talking to my family," said Helal.
"Neighbours avoid movement near my house. No rickshaw-puller allows any of my family members to get on his vehicle," Helal looked helpless.
There are even Facebook posts sharing a false message that Helal is infected by the coronavirus and has been hiding himself after coming back from China.
"But the truth is that I have been staying at my home, and police have already visited me here," Helal said.
"Apart from the medical tests, members of the National Security Intelligence, the District Special Branch and the Detective Branch have been keeping regular contacts with me."
Even then, Helal and his entire family are being humiliated in the village, according to him.
Helal's sister Nipa Begum said, "Some people have been spreading rumours about Helal. As a result, we have been passing days in a difficult state as if we were exiled from society."
Dr Monowar Hossain, the Barishal district civil surgeon, said a team of doctors have already tested Helal and found no symptoms of the coronavirus infection.
"He has no fever, nor even a slight cough or cold. Besides, Helal himself is a medical science student and well aware of his health," the doctor said.
Yet, Helal has been staying in a separate room and will be keeping a distance from his family for 14 days. Nevertheless, there is no reason to be concerned about him, Dr Monowar added.
Md Saiful Alam, the superintendent of Barishal police, said, "The medical reports of Helal confirmed us that he has no symptoms of coronavirus. At present, he is well and in a normal state of health," he also said.
He requested the local people to avoid spreading rumours about Helal.
Gouranodi Municipality Mayor Harisur Rahman Haris said he has recently learned about the gossip.
"Rumour is an issue of deep concern. We will sit with distinguished personalities in the locality to determine how we can stop it," he said.