No private or public vehicles allowed, general holiday for all
The areas marked as red zones by the authorities will be placed under a 21-day lockdown, not 14 days, as declared earlier.
All offices and businesses in red zones are to remain shut, said the government via a press release.
In the press release, issued on Monday, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said the “red zone” status of those areas could change as and when the situation improves.
Do’s and Don’ts in red zones
In the red zones, the authorities will strictly control the movement of people by setting up entry and exit points.
Residents will have to rely on delivery from restaurants while grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open for walk-in customers.
Residents will be allowed to shop in bazaars only when necessary, said an urgent press release signed by Dr Jahirul Karim, member secretary to Zoning System Affairs Central Technical Group to Control Covid-19.
People can only work from home in the red zone areas and can venture out of their homes maintaining health advisories for emergencies.
Rickshaws, vans, taxis, auto-rickshaws, even private cars won’t be permitted inside the demarcated areas during the 21-day lockdown.
There will be provisions for Covid-19 tests for suspects, while home isolation or institutional isolation will be arranged for patients who test positive.
In red zones, almost all forms of transport will be suspended and public transport, including trains and launches, won’t be allowed to stop to ferry people, according to the 13-point directives for red zones. Goods-laden water vessels and ships however can enter and exit red zone areas only at night.
Meanwhile, shopping malls, gyms or sports complexes and recreation centres will remain shut.
No public gathering of any kind is allowed and only people who are ill can go out to hospitals.
Mosques and other places of worship can remain open but only for staff and their officials, and not for residents.
ATM services will remain open, and banks can remain in operation in limited capacity.
Factories in towns will remain shut, but factories and agricultural-production related factories in rural areas can remain operational, the health authorities said.
Agricultural work must be carried out by strictly following health regulations (hygiene) even during the extended time.
Confusion over red zone areas
The red zone areas of Covid-19, announced by the government, does not entail a whole area, rather a part of the area where coronavirus transmission is significantly higher.
The National Technical Advisory Committee for fighting Covid-19 on Saturday recommended placing 64 areas – including 45 under Dhaka city corporations – in the “red zone” category to prevent further spread of transmission.
It includes 17 areas in DNCC, 28 in DSCC, 10 in Chittagong, four in Narayanganj, and five in Gazipur, where the number of cases are higher. However, this is not applicable to the whole area, but rather, a specific portion of a ward that would be considered as a “cluster zone” based on the severity of cases.
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As the news of marking areas as red zones went viral, people got either confused and panicked whether Mirpur or Bashundhara R/A, or Mohammadpur, or any other major residential area would be placed as a red zone as a whole.
Dhaka Tribune spoke to a number of authorities involved in the process who confirmed that the areas recommended earlier won’t fall under the category of red zone as a whole, but clusters within the area would face restrictions.
For example, the whole of Tejgaon won’t become a red zone, but rather an area like East Rajabazar, that is a part of Tejgaon, has come under lockdown on a pilot basis.
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Atiqul Islam said they received a list of 17 areas signed by the DGHS Director General (DG) Abul Kalam Azad, but they need an official order and mapping to implement the plan.
“For instance, there are five wards in Mohammadpur, but a list has to confine the areas of certain wards where cases are higher,” the mayor explained adding that it is easier to manage confined areas.
“A mapping or demarcation detailing a list of houses where Covid-19 cases have been reported would be helpful. If that’s not possible, we have to know which locality, lane, or ward, etc has higher cases, and then there is a need for proper mapping,” he said.
Director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said the more confined the areas are, the more likely are the benefits.
“We have to keep in mind about life, livelihood, and earning of people. We need to keep economic activities moving. So, lockdown will be in place for smaller neighbourhoods of a broader area, instead of an area as a whole,” she said.
Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, joint secretary (e-governance) of Cabinet Division and joint project director at Access To Information (A2i), said they are now trying to segregate smaller areas with the support from mobile phone companies.
“We mobile phone operators can track location of the numbers provided at the sample collection forms and can help segregate areas in smaller scale,” he added.
There’s a need for police support, local administrative support, among other issues that need to be sorted, for imposing lockdown in red zones, in order to keep the lives going in the areas.
The aim is to get maximum output using minimum resources, said the joint secretary.
In a notification issued on Monday, the Cabinet Division said offices in yellow and green zones, however, would be able to operate on a limited scale.
Public movement would remain prohibited from 8pm to 6am. No one would be allowed to leave their homes unless there is an emergency, according to the notification.
Wearing masks outdoors also remains mandatory, it said and urged citizens to follow the health guidelines before warning that legal actions would be taken against those not wearing masks in public.
On the other hand, the DGHS issued a press statement stating that the authorities would have to ensure contact tracing and quarantine for all people who came in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient, across Bangladesh, irrespective of zoning.
Earlier on March 26, the government had declared a general holiday to ensure social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Later, the holiday was gradually extended in phases to May 30 as the country kept seeing a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.