People in Dhaka show lax approach to virus safety measures as the winter approaches with a concern over the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic
Although the government has made wearing face-mask mandatory at public and private organisations, both the service providers and seekers tend to ignore the virus safety measures.
The reluctant attitude was found common during visits to city corporation offices, public hospitals, markets, banks and on most public transports on Tuesday.
Service seekers were found entering Karwanbazar city corporation zonal office without face-mask or sanitizing their hands. Many of them had the mask in their hands or pockets while the security guard at the entrance seemed to overlook it.
At the revenue and licence sections of the office, most of the service providers too did not have face masks on, and there was roaming around freely from one room to another.
Meantime, the service seekers were visiting the employees without bothering virus safety much.
Masud Hossain, zonal executive office at the office, claimed the service seekers enter the office wearing face-mask, but they remove it afterwards. The government employees who offer services also displayed the lax attitude.
Previously, the government issued "no mask, no service" order for everywhere – both public and private offices. Amid the slack implementation of the order, the government on Tuesday issued another stricter order in this regard.
The order asked all field-level public offices to strictly follow "no mask no service" virus safety measure.
Ashikur Rahman and her daughter came to Dhaka Medical College Hospital on the day. None of them had face-mask while they entered the medical facility with a high virus infection risk.
At the last moment, they collected two masks from a hawker and turned up before the hospital's emergency department ticket counter. However, the hospital staff who had been issuing tickets did not have face-mask on.
Most of the patients at wards did not also have masks on. However, the hospital doctors and nurses were found in rounds with their masks on.
Brig Gen Nasiruddin, director of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, told TBS that they were showing "zero tolerance" against lax approach to health safety.
"We are not allowing a single person to enter the hospital without face-masks. Our staff are making awareness announcements and they are in rounds to ensure that the safety measures are being followed properly," he added.
The hospital director also said they would take action if any of their staff is found violating the health safety guidelines. The similar scene was found while visiting the Birdem General Hospital Tuesday. There was no security guard at the entrance of the hospital to force incoming people to wear masks.
Agrani Bank, Islami Bank, Dutch Bangla Bank and Eastern Bank branches in Dhaka's Motijheel, Elephant Road, Karwanbazar, Rampura, Hatirpool and New Market were found strict about wearing masks while conducting transactions. Security guards at the bank entrances were not allowing anyone to enter without face-masks on and checking body temperature.
However, people at kitchen markets and groceries had a bit of careless attitude.
Rezwan, an employee of a stationery shop in Hatirpool, was working without a mask and there were some customers there showing the same careless attitude. Rezwan said he wears masks when he goes out. He is not used to wearing it while working at the shop.
New Market remains closed Tuesday while some hawkers sell various products beside the roads. Most of their customers there were found without masks.
At Karnaphuli Garden City Shopping Complex, people were entering with masks on, and removing those just minutes after crossing the entrance.
A shopper Ariful Islam said, "I had been wearing it for long. Now I have opened it as I feel uneasy to breathe."
Chairman of Health and Hope Hospital Dr MH Lelin Chowdhury thinks wearing face musk would have to be included in people's habit and there are two ways to do it.
"We need to raise awareness and enforce the law at the same time," he added. The physician also suggested distributing free masks among low-income people.
Meantime, some passengers on public buses in Dhaka were found using masks on their own.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque told an inter-ministerial meeting Tuesday that steps would be taken to force people to wear face masks until the vaccine arrives.
Cabinet Division issues new directives
Expressing concern, Cabinet Division in a circular Tuesday said that despite the directive to wear masks in ministries, divisions, departments, agencies, institutions and field level offices, lax approach to virus safety has been noticed.
The circular said, the offices have been instructed to put no masks, no-entry posters, stickers in visible places. At the same time, they are asked to ensure that both the service providers and service recipients wear masks.
These instructions were sent to the secretaries, divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers (upazila executive officers).