The streets are empty. Most of the shops are closed. The markets are far less crowded.
The entire two wards of Shibchar Municipality and another two of Panch Char and Bayratala unions in Madaripur district now look deserted after they were put under lockdown on Thursday.
Before the lockdown, returnees from abroad were moving freely, ignoring the upazila administration's call for isolation.
But now, people of these wards are not allowed to go out of home without permission from the administration. In case of any emergency, they have to take the authorities' permission to go outside.
Some 250 police members have been deployed to restrict people's movement.
Besides, entering or leaving the area is also prohibited.
This situation will continue until further notice.
Shibchar Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Asaduzzaman told The Business Standard that most of those now in isolation came from these two areas. "So, we have confined them for an indefinite period," he said.
"Police members are on duty round-the-clock. No one can go anywhere without their permission. If anyone tries to violate the rules, they must face punitive action," the UNO said.
"During the lockdown, no one can enter the area and no one can leave. Everyone has to stay at home. Only emergency services will remain active," he added.
There are 370,000 people in the 350 square kilometer area of Shibchar upazila. Approximately 15,000 people are now living in these four confined wards, said upazila administration sources.
Abul Hakim, an elderly person of a locked down ward of Bayratala union, said, "I have never faced such a situation in my life." But he also appreciated the measure, saying the government had nothing to do but to lock down these areas.
"One hundred people have been kept in isolation in the upazila," he said.
All the markets in the upazila are also closed – except for a few shops for daily essentials. No public transport across the upazila was seen on Friday. Rickshaws and vans mostly dominated the upazila streets.
Zahid Hawlader, owner of a tin shop at Panch Char market, said they welcomed the administration's order to shut down the shops.
"I closed my shop and definitely will follow the government's directive. In fact, no shopkeepers in my market have violated the rules," he said.
Nazmul Hossain Sajib, a resident of Panch Char union, told The Business Standard, "We saw many Italy returnees moving randomly. Many of us asked them to follow the health ministry's directive and stay in self-isolation for 14 days. But they disobeyed the rules."
Nazmul said, "It is a matter of concern that the coronavirus may spread from them across the upazila."
Upazila administration sources said 3,000 people came to Madaripur from abroad in the last 10 days. Of them, 664 people – mostly from Italy – came to Shibchar. But they are now reluctant to stay in self-isolation.
"Shibchar upazila is the only area where the administration has warned the people by holding meetings and distributing leaflets since February," said Babul Hossain, a resident of Shibchar Municipality.
The returnees pose a potential threat of spreading the coronavirus among the people of Shibchar and also those who use this area for communication from Kathalbari to Barishal, Faridpur, Gopalganj and Khulna.
"We are looking for the returnees to keep them in isolation. They are a threat to the people of this area. We conducted drives at many spots to identify them," said the Shibchar UNO.
"We have also requested returnees to contact us and we will receive them with honour," he said.
Abir Hossain, assistant police superintendent of Madaripur, told the media on Friday that the police will do everything for the safety of the people.