Govt backtracks on its decision to set up quarantine centre in Diabari; coronavirus panic grips the whole country
Police claim that they have locked down a residential building in the capital's Mirpur area after an elderly resident died from coronavirus at a private hospital on Friday, but their statement does not match the real scenario.
While on a visit to the area on Saturday, The Business Standard did not find any extra measures being taken by the authorities to monitor the so-called 'locked down' apartment.
No patrolling by the local police either.
Some 30 families living in the building have been instructed to stay in their homes for the next 14 days.
However, as a result of lax monitoring, the residents of the building are not facing any difficulty in flouting the home quarantine guidelines.
During Saturday's visit, this correspondent saw several residents coming out and roaming around in the area.
One of them bought necessary food for his family from a nearby grocery shop.
When asked, he said, "The virus cannot transmit from one flat to another so why should we be confined?"
"We are also a bit scared," he continued, "but who will do our regular work? The police or the administration?"
Md Shwapan, 23, who works at the grocery shop, said some of the quarantined people come to the shop in violation of the instructions of the authorities.
Meanwhile, more than one hundred over-enthusiastic people gathered in front of the cordoned-off building on Saturday noon.
Some of them even tried to enter the nine-storied building named "Darul Aman".
Few members of the victim's family recently returned from Canada and Japan, said Maria Khan, who lives in the building just in front of quarantined one.
Referring to the gathering of, she said, "We saw some policemen arrive when some local people got into a quarrel with curious outsiders who had gathered in front of the quarantined building. After that, we have not seen any police patrolling here."
When contacted, Mostak Ahmed, deputy commissioner (Mirpur Division) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) confirmed that police have cordoned off the building and restricted people's movement around the area.
But when asked why there was no police personnel there to ensure vigilance, the deputy commissioner said it was a false allegation.
"As far as I am concerned our policemen have already visited there," he added.
The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has advised mandatory quarantine for the residents of the building, and that no one from the building will be allowed to come out because one of the residents has died from the coronavirus, he said.
A higher official at the Dhaka district administration, however, claimed that policemen are not doing their duty there properly.
"When I visited the spot, I found no police official there. So how will we make sure the quarantined people do not disobey the instructions and stay at home?" the official added.
Meanwhile, IEDCR's Chief Scientific Officer ASM Alamgir said they have traced the acquaintances and family members who were recently in close contact with the deceased person.
"If anyone of them shows any symptom of the coronavirus, we will promptly collect their samples for testing," he added.
Syed Morad Ali, assistant commissioner (land) of Mirpur circle said they have been instructed to immediately lockdown the building.
"We are trying to follow the instructions. If the residents are more aware, it will be easier to do so," he added.
Govt backtracks on decision to set up quarantine centre in Diabari
Meanwhile, the government has cancelled its decision to build a quarantine centre in the capital's Diabari area.
Lt Col Abdullah Ibn Zaid, the director of the Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate confirmed the matter to the media.
"A new quarantine centre will be built in a different place allocated by the government," he added.
Earlier on Friday, local people staged a day-long protest as the government moved to set up a temporary quarantine facility in the area. They also confined the Rajuk chairman when he visited the spot.
Meanwhile, the proposal to set up a quarantine centre on the Biswa Ijtema ground was also cancelled on Friday.
Corona fear affects citizens across the country
Not just people in the capital, but people in divisional cities are also panicking over the coronavirus outbreak. The usually busy roads are empty, no one is coming out unless there is an emergency and there are very few passengers on long haul buses. The same applies to airline flights.
There is an eerie silence in Tangail town with few people on the roads and in the hospitals. Business activities have also dropped. Entertainment spots in Rangpur have closed down. A cautionary announcement is going on through loudspeakers in Satkhira. Besides, other districts, including Rajshahi, Netrokona, Narayanganj, Chuadanga, Moulvibazar and Brahmanbaria have been affected by the coronavirus.
To stem the spread of coronavirus and to make local people aware of the gravity of the situation, Jagodol union in Magura Sadar upazila has hung red flags in front of the houses of people who have returned from abroad. The union parishad took the initiative on Saturday.
Jogodol Union Parishad Chairman Rafiqul Islam said returnees from abroad posed a risk of spreading coronavirus and yet they were roaming outside their homes, violating the mandatory home quarantine rules. "So, we have gone to every house to collect information about those who have returned from abroad within the last seven days," he said.
"On the first day, we identified 22 people who have come from the UAE, Singapore, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All of them have been quarantined. We have also placed red flags in front of their houses so that people in the village, the health department, administration and local government can monitor them properly," he said.
Magura Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Abu Sufian said, "We have made a list of returnees and ensured they are quarantined. This activity will go on. If anyone violates the home quarantine rules legal action will be taken against them."
The port city is empty due to coronavirus fears. The city's Kazir Mor, a popular destination for restaurant going people, is usually busy with customers. During the evenings, the area is too crowded to walk through. However, the fear of coronavirus has changed this picture. The restaurants get few customers. Many mobile shops have been closed already.
On the Cox's Bazar beach, which is bustling with tourists throughout the year, there is no hustle and bustle of tourists. Amid pin-drop silence, only the sound of waves can be heard.
The ban on public gatherings on the beach and the surroundings to prevent corona outbreak has led to this situation. All Saint Martin-bound vessels stopped plying on Friday. Upscale hotels, restaurants, and cafes have sent 50-60 percent of their staff on leave, though there has been no directive to shut them down.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain said tourist spots had been shut down until further notice to avoid the corona outbreak.
Awareness regarding coronavirus has increased in Bogura. There are few people in busy areas in the city, including Satmatha. Physicians said in the past the people did not use masks or wash hands properly. That attitude has changed recently.
Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Deputy Director Dr Md Abdul Wadud said fewer patients are coming to the outdoor section compared to a few days ago.
In Mymensingh, people in the city are more cautious than those in villages. People in the district and upazila levels are not leaving home unless there is an emergency. However, low-income people are going out to work.
Arif Ahmed, who is in the restaurant business in the city, said the number of customers has significantly dropped in the last few days and he has been thinking of shutting down the restaurant for the time being.
Although no one in Khulna has tested positive, people remain in fear of coronavirus and are not going out unless it is urgent. The roads are almost empty.
A crowd in the market, a crowd in the mazars – this was the situation of Sylhet city on Saturday. The city's largest market Kalighat was overcrowded with panic-stricken people buying up various types of groceries.
M Kazi Emdadul Islam, the deputy commissioner of Sylhet, said, "We have requested people to remain at home. Any type of gathering, even at mazars, has been discouraged."