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Covid surge: Dhaka has become a powder keg, says State Minister Farhad

  • Published at 02:12 pm April 7th, 2021
test covid queue
Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain urged all to follow the government issued health rules to combat the deadly virus

Addressing the current surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain has said that the country’s capital Dhaka has become a "powder keg.”

"We are trying to deal with the [coronavirus] situation while protecting everything," he told Bangla Tribune on Tuesday during an interview on how the government actually intends to fight the second wave of the pandemic.

Covid-19 the only enemy now

Urging all to obey the government health safety restrictions to combat the deadly virus, Farhad said: "We all, despite our differences, should see coronavirus as our enemy. We are failing to understand what horror we’re living in right now. 

“A person should try not to go outside at their own will. Instead of doing that, whenever a decision is taken to control the pandemic, a group of people oppose it and create chaos. Although, in a pandemic, we aren’t opponents to each other but it is Covid-19 that is our enemy.”

Forced to resume public transport

State Minister Farhad said: "We thought that private offices would make transportation arrangements for their employees and take steps to keep everything operational with the least number of people physically present at one place amid the lockdown. But they did not do so. 

“As a result of this, we had to resume public transport after seeing the sufferings of the office-goers in the last two days.” 

When asked about why offices were not completely shut down this time like last year, he said: “With the announcement of the general holidays in 2020, people rushed to their village homes. Previously the virus transmission was low thus it did not spread much. But this time the infection level is so high that if people were allowed go outside of Dhaka, it would have spread all across the country. Now Dhaka has become a powder keg. Risk will increase if something goes wrong, even the tiniest bit.”

Movement of people down

The state minister, pointing out the initial achievements of the weeklong lockdown that started on Monday, said: “Despite the sufferings of the office-goers, the tendency of people to go outside has decreased. People are staying at their homes as they can’t hang out on the streets after 6pm. 

“Also, the number of people wearing masks has increased.”

“Only if a person goes out wearing two masks, doesn’t remove them at any point while being out, washes hands properly when back home – they can protect themselves from the infection. 

“I have seen many of my doctor friends, who, despite treating thousands of Covid-19 patients, didn’t get infected themselves by simply following these rules. Masks are a must. No one can say when this [pandemic] will end. So we have to get used to the aforementioned rules.”

Infections high in Mirpur

Referring to the increase in the practice of wearing masks, the state minister said: "Most of the Covid-19 deaths and cases are being reported in Dhaka. Infection rate in Mirpur is very high. Everyone should consider whether we are making big mistakes ourselves. We have to think collectively or else it will become difficult for us to handle the situation.”

Regarding the future of the lockdown and government efforts to curb further spread of Covid-19, Farhad said: "We are constantly reviewing the situation, and based on the findings, taking decisions. 

“If this [Covid-19 upsurge] continues, our healthcare system will collapse.

“Sometimes full implementation of decisions taken for the betterment of all is not possible,” the state minister said, adding, “New instructions will be given considering what happens in the future.”

Criticizing the Dhaka shop owners and employees who took to the streets for protesting the government's move to shut down all shopping malls and markets during the lockdown, he said: "Teenage shop employees participated in Monday's protest. None of them were wearing masks. 

“What will happen if they get sick? Where will these shop owners find people to work for them then? We are not trying to understand that the current situation is not good. Each of us should behave responsibly.”

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