Most slum dwellers living in different parts of the capital hardly bother about the virus and its infection but what worries them is hunger as they cannot go out for work
Sitting in front of her small tin-roofed house at Gulistan slum, Munmun was thinking about how she would feed her three children as she ran out of food only in two days.
Now she does not know what she will do once her little savings finish with no prospect of income looming in the next seven days at least.
To halt the spread of coronavirus, people across the country have been told to stay indoors, and slum people are not out of the directive.
Most slum dwellers living in different parts of the capital hardly bother about the virus and its infection but what worries them is hunger as they cannot go out for work.
About 6.46 lakh people live at 3,394 slums in the capital.
"We are doing everything possible to stay safe from coronavirus. I fear hunger more than the virus," Munmun, a cleaning worker at a city market, said.
Munmun said she is well-aware of personal hygiene for herself and her children. She bought soaps and masks for her children.
But she is unable to maintain social distancing as most slum dwellers do not care about this amid coronavirus fears.
Lack of food coupled with not being able to keep a safe distance from other slum people made her much worried.
"My husband left me a few years ago. I had to come and live in the slum. I had passed many days half-fed or without food. My sons cried for food but I had nothing to do. I never expected that such days would come back to us," she said.
"If the coronavirus situation stays longer, I would request the government to provide us with food every day. Otherwise, hunger will kill us before coronavirus," she added.
Guljar, a resident at Hazaribagh slum, said he cannot pull a rickshaw at a stretch owing to illness. That is why he always struggles to make ends meet.
"I am 45. I have five members in my family. I can earn hardly Tk200 per day and it is not enough for my family expenses. Now I am not allowed to pull the rickshaw.
"I am deeply worried about arranging food for my family," he said in frustration.
"I went out with my rickshaw but policemen beat me up and sent me back to the slum," Guljar said in a teary voice.
Residents at Geneva Camp in Dhaka's Mohammadpur also fear about their livelihood in the coming days.
Shakila, who lives with her mother and two younger sister and brother at the camp, said she and her sister Anila are domestic workers in a nearby area.
But the employer told Shakila not to go for a week from Thursday in the wake of the coronavirus catastrophe.
"They would not pay me when I am on forced leave. Now I am tense about my livelihood for future," said Shakila.
Md Nasim, a carpet seller at the camp area, said his shop had remained shut for the last four days.
"Most of my customers are outsiders. Now I have no earnings as there are no customers," he said.
The Geneva Camp, also known as Bihari Camp, is a densely-populated settlement of more than 40,000 Biharis where each family with eight to ten members on average live in a room, and around 90 people share a latrine.
Coronavirus has not brought any changes in the internal scenario of the daily life of the camp dwellers as they make gatherings and gossip everywhere in the area.
A large gathering was seen during Jummah prayers at Masjid (mosque) al Bashir in the camp on Friday.
"We supplied rice, oil, potato, and some other necessary commodities to 320 poor families of the camp on Thursday with the help of solvent people," local ward councillor Syed Hasan Noor said.
Health experts said poor sanitation, overcrowding, and lack of hygiene-related materials are major factors in the transmission of Covid-19.
Most people at the Geneva Camp and slums are day labourers, small business owners, factory workers, or household helps. So, it is difficult for them to maintain cleanliness or avoid gatherings.
Most of the slum dwellers do not use masks either.
"We are living with unhygienic factors. If I say about the sanitation system, it is the worst in the world. I am living with four members of my family in a 150 square feet house. How will we avoid gathering?" said Jamal Mia, a resident at Tejgaon Baulbag slum.
What is the government doing?
Brig Gen Mohammad Mominur Rahman Mamun, chief health officer at Dhaka North City Corporation, told The Business Standard that they have a plan to distribute soaps among the slum dwellers.
But we have no plan yet to distribute food among them, he said.
"The Dhaka north mayor is thinking about what can be done for the lower-income people as a whole. But we did not hold any discussion for the slum dwellers," Mamun said.
Brig Gen Md Sharif Ahmed, chief health official at Dhaka South City Corporation, said they distributed 2,000 packets of food among the slum dwellers.
"We have also started distributing leaflets to make slum inhabitants aware of coronavirus in 75 wards through ward commissioners and five partner non-governmental organisations of the urban primary health care services delivery project," he added.