The administration's decision to lockdown some areas of Shibchar upazila has brought results as no new case of coronavirus infection has been identified here after March 19.
Shibchar upazila, Bangladesh's first area put in lockdown, was most vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus as ten out of 48 patients identified in the country are from there.
People in the lockdown areas of the upazila have been following home quarantine guidelines, stopping further spread of the virus.
Several social welfare organizations of the area also stepped up to fight the disease and help ultra-poor families.
Nazmul Hossain Shobuz, the convener of Madborer Char Youth Society, said, "We distributed hand sanitizers, masks, soap, medicines, and rice among 200 ultra-poor families of my union with donations from our members and from affluent people."
Shibchar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Asaduzzaman told The Business Standard yesterday that it would have been impossible to keep things under control had the people not come forward. "They feared a food crisis. But we assured them that no one will die of food shortage."
Sources at the upazila administration said that 3,000 poor people of the area have received the relief, and this will be distributed regularly.
This correspondent, while visiting places across the upazila yesterday, found the streets almost empty. There was no public transport either. All the shops – except the ones selling groceries, vegetables, and medicines – were closed.
Notub Ali, a vegetable vendor, told The Business Standard, "My sales fell by 50 percent. But I am not unhappy as we want to prevent the deadly virus."
Milon Mia, a store owner at Panchar Bazar, said some customers are ordering products from home while some are coming to the store. "But everyone is maintaining a distance and wearing a mask. We open the shop at 9 am and close it at 5 pm and then go straight home."
Abdul Halim Rony of Panchar union said, "We have been under home quarantine for 11 days. It is like serving a prison sentence. But we have no shortage of food. The administration is giving rice, pulses and other essentials to low-income people."
To make sure none of the residents leave their neighborhoods, the on-duty police were seen quizzing people on the street and trying to convince them to go home.
The Officer-in-Charge of Shibchar Police Station, Abul Kalam Azad, told The Business Standard: "250 policemen are working very hard 24/7 at 17 spots. It is also good news that people are following instructions."
However, there are only 12 isolation beds for coronavirus patients in the area, two at the upazila health complex and ten at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Pilot High School.
And the upazila has no testing kits. Also, the number of personal protective equipment (PPE) is not sufficient.
Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Sashanka Chandra Ghose told The Business Standard that they have only 50 PPEs. "It is okay, but if the situation worsens it will not be enough."
In the 350 square kilometre area of Shibchar upazila, 370,000 people live. About 85,000 people of seven wards of the upazila are now under containment.