Impact of coronavirus

Many middle-class people turning poor

With the end of the ongoing lock down, which has sparked unprecedented distress, nowhere in sight, the middle class section of the populace has now been thrown into a ‘new poor’ identity.

With no public transport and strict orders to practice social distancing, people, especially lower income and middle class, have not been able to continue their work which is forcing them to use up their savings to run their families.

Most of them have not received salaries for two months, even many of them hardly have any savings to fall upon, which has badly hit their day to day life, while fear is also growing among them of losing jobs.

In this lockdown, public and private institutions including all kinds of industries like garments, shopping malls, markets, and public transport have been closed for a long time, leaving employees as well as professionals jobless.

Hasan Ali, who works for a private organisation told this correspondent, When the government announced a general holiday last month, without paying salary, the employer shut the office. Now our small savings is our last hope but we do not know how long it will last . 

Economists say, everyone is staying in, following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's call. It is a health emergency as well as a financial crisis, and no one knows how grave this will be and how long this will last. In this situation, a large section of the lower-middle class population will be completely wiped out of their small savings.

They will face more difficulties to pay their house rent, utility bill, school-college-universities tuition fees, and others in the coming days as when the situation improves, they will need more time to get back to normal work as work opportunities will shrink due to the pandemic, they added.

However, for the people, who reside in the cities, savings is probably their only source of survival in this lockdown situation as many of them alleged they are yet to get government assistance.

Meanwhile, the non-governmental organisation BRAC has conducted a survey where it showed that low income people across the country are suffering from a food crisis due to lockdown which need to be addressed immediately, low income people of Bangladesh are suffering great losses in their earnings. Extreme poverty has risen 60 percentage points than before, while 14 percent people do not have any food at home. On the other hand, 36 percent of people do not have any clear idea about measures to be taken to prevent COVID-19, found the survey.

Anxiety, grief, and trauma are natural responses to the pandemic, but placed in a class context, some people are finding it hard to accept the alarming situation. As a result, many middle-class people feel ashamed to ask for anything from anyone.

Dr Mohammad Shayekh Abdullah, a residential physician of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital that runs the largest outdoor services in Bangladesh, told Bangladesh Post that they are getting many patients with ‘somatic symptoms’ now. “Feeling feverish or feeling like something is stuck in their throat or little cough makes them think they have the new virus which is actually not the case,” he said.