Covid surge in Bangladesh continues
Traffic bustle returned to Dhaka with the resumption of city bus services on Wednesday, the third day of the seven-day countrywide lockdown.
In the wake of commuters’ sufferings, the government allowed public transports to resume their operations in Dhaka, Chittagong, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Comilla, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur and Mymensingh city corporation areas from 6am to 6pm every day.
The relaxation has brought some sort of relief for commuters, vendors, traders and retailers who had suffered during the last two days for the lack of public transports.
“This is good! It has enabled us to move easily in the city. But maintaining health protocols still remains a problem. People are reluctant,” said Shafiqul Islam, a private firm executive.
But, he said, with the resumption of public transport service, Dhaka got back its usual traffic chaos and sound pollution though the volume of vehicles was relatively low.
Although mass transports were relatively thin on the streets, traffic jams were seen in areas like Moghbazar, Banani and Gulistan areas.
“City buses resumed their operation on Wednesday morning but the number of buses is low. As there is a lack of passengers, owners are operating a very limited number of buses,” said Joint Commissioner (Traffic North) Abu Saleh Sheikh Russel.
Asaduzzaman, a traffic inspector (Mohakhali), said: “Buses have been moving since the morning within city areas with limited numbers of passengers. As the government has suspended the ride-sharing services, we are filing cases against those found operating the services.”
“We are also monitoring whether people are following health guidelines,” he said.
Talking to UNB, Ashrafuzzaman, manager of Alif Paribahan, said: “We are operating 60% buses maintaining health protocols. Usually 200 vehicles operate on four routes. As the number of passengers is poor and long-haul bus services have been suspended, we are now operating 60% buses.”
But the resumption of bus services has apparently reduced the sufferings of office-goers and commuters in the capital.
Although Covid-19 cases reached a new high on Wednesday, people were seen mostly reluctant about obeying health rules and lockdown restrictions.
This UNB correspondent found the kitchen market along the rail line in Malibagh area overcrowded as trade activities seem to have picked up.
“Business is back with a greater number of shoppers today,” said Shajal, a vegetable vendor at the market.
However, experts said it will be difficult to contain coronavirus infections and deaths if a strict lockdown is not enforced as the situation is turning worse day by day.
Many patients are moving from one hospital to another for admission or oxygen support as most hospitals are occupied.
Private cars, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, microbus and CNG-run auto-rickshaws and many ride-sharing services were seen plying the streets like the previous two days.
Shopping malls across the city are closed as per government instruction but small shops were seen open in many areas.
This correspondent found shops in lanes and by-lanes open despite the lockdown.
Worsening Covid-19 situation
Bangladesh registered the highest number of daily infections with 7,626 new cases and 63 more deaths during the 24 hours till Wednesday morning.
With Wednesday’s figure, over 7,000 new Coronavirus cases were recorded for the fourth consecutive day, according to a handout issued by the Directorate General of Health Services.
With the fresh 63 deaths, the Covid-19 fatalities rose to 9,447 while the mortality rate dropped slightly to 1.43% from Tuesday’s 1.44%.
The infection rate jumped to 22.02% from 21.02% on Wednesday.