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Traveller's Tale: People completely indifferent to Covid-19 protective measures

  • Published at 11:58 am March 13th, 2021
islampur market shopping-MH
Photo shows massive crowd as people buying clothes for Eid in Islampur area of Dhaka during Coronavirus pandemic Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Till everyone is vaccinated, only wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands can protect the population from the deadly virus

There has been a surge in coronavirus cases in the country for the last few days which is undoubtedly worrying. But, the majority of the population seem to be completely indifferent to the worsening situation. It appears that they have all but forgotten about the protective measures – wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands – that can keep the virus at bay.

This correspondent travelled to quite a few places in Dhaka, Gazipur, and Mymensingh between March 11-13. It was found that very few people were following the protective measures. Things are much worse in villages than the towns.

Having embarked on a bus from Uttara to Mymensingh on Thursday afternoon, most of the people were seen without any masks and social distancing. The situation was the same for the staff and people waiting at the bus counter. There was no sanitization facility at the counter. Let alone disinfecting the bus, the seats and other interiors were unhygienic in the extreme.

With the advancement of the journey through Tongi, Sripur, Gazipur Sadar, Valuka, and Trishal, the number of people with masks lessened significantly. And, social distancing seemed to be a thing of the past.

After arriving in Mymensingh, a city corporation, the scenario was more or less like pre-Covid times. Be it a rickshaw puller or a senior banker, an apathy to wearing masks and social distancing was witnessed.

In Gouripur, an upazila under Mymensingh district, it was really difficult to find people with masks on Friday. And, the issue of social distancing should not even be an issue to discuss.

Apart from the congestion at the Mymensingh railways station, the situation with respect to the train travellers was little bit better on Saturday although things were far from ideal.

Talking to a number of people while visiting the places, the most shocking aspects found were complacency and indifference. Most of them were of the opinion that Covid-19 had all but disappeared and even if it existed, it would be gone. Some sounded like fatalists. The people here did not even have enough knowledge about the ongoing vaccination campaign throughout the country.

Against the backdrop of such a situation, the government must take some urgent measures, including intensification of the awareness program so that people can understand that the protective measures are still important and only these can save them from being infected until everyone is vaccinated – which is a long way to go. People will also have to realize that even the vaccination does not provide 100% protection.

As the coronavirus cases are on the rise, the authorities should also think of putting in place a strict regime to make people wear masks and maintain social distancing. The strict enforcement of these protective measures did work earlier.

Everyone in the country, especially the people, must understand that the nation's health system is vulnerable. Heaven forbid, if people started getting infected on a large scale, it will be nothing short of a catastrophe. So, for a country like Bangladesh, prevention is always better than cure.

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