Amid a lockdown and an oncoming super cyclone, Amphan in the Bay, thousands of people, heading home for Eid, continue leaving the capital Dhaka in the dead of night to avoid any trouble from security personnel.
Earlier, following high-up directives, law enforcers set up check posts at almost every entry and exit point of capital Dhaka to stop the exit and inflow of people in a bid to thwart the spread of the virus.
As the number of people infected by the coronavirus has increased, the people of the capital have started leaving ahead of Eid. Due to a strict ban on all types of traffic in the last 4 days before Eid, such a crackdown has already started.
Even though public transport is banned, folks are running towards the village by renting ambulances, microbuses and private cars. Many people are leaving Dhaka in pickup vans at midnight. In the last few days, a few such scenes have been seen at the entrances of Dhaka.
The situation is similar at Tongi and Kanchpur highway areas. The ferry services at Paturia-Daulatdia Ghat were stopped at noon yesterday to restrain the flow of people.
Although the number of people on the way to South Bengal has decreased, the rest of the country’s highways are still clogged with traffic.
Police officials said they are allowing only those who have urgent reasons -- official and business purposes – to leave Dhaka but some people are departing the city on various excuses giving unauthenticated information.
Public Health experts warned that allowing people to either leave or enter the capital amid the alarming spike in coronavirus cases will be suicidal as the virus will spread all over the country.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Benazir Ahmed on Sunday directed police officers to take steps so that people can neither leave nor enter Dhaka taking advantage of the upcoming Eid vacation and the ongoing general holidays.
He also urged people not to go to their village homes from the capital and other cities during the general and Eid holidays and follow the health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked how people are departing the city and gathering at the ferry terminals when police check-posts are there, law enforcers said some people may be giving wrong information to law enforcers to get permission to leave the city.
Public health expert, professor Lutfor Rahman talking to Bangladesh Post said, “It would be catastrophic for all people in the villages, as we don’t know who is infected. Even they are leaving the capital despite falling into greater health risk.”
“Still, I would say, there is no alternative to physical distancing, hygiene guidelines and boosting the immune system. People must have to understand this public health emergency, or face the worst although we successfully curbed the first wave of infection.”
Prof Dr Harun-or-Rashid, head of medicine department at Dhaka Community Medical College & Hospital (DCMCH), said most areas in the country are still free from the coronavirus. “If people carrying the virus go to their village homes ahead of the Eid, it’ll spread to many uninfected areas. It’ll be suicidal if we allow infected people to go to uninfected areas as it’ll only help the virus to last longer in the country.”
He urged the law enforcers to strengthen their monitoring further and prevent people from leaving the capital in any way, or else, we’ve to pay a heavy price.”