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Some health experts find the seven-day lockdown since 5 April as 'unscientific and halfhearted' as the special measures are unlikely to yield any positive result, reports UNB.

They said the free movement of people, demonstrations and public gatherings at kitchen markets and other places on the first day of lockdown exhibited people’s indifference to this "partial" shutdown.

They cited that all offices, factories and Amar Ekushey Book Fair are still open amid the lockdown.

The experts, however, suggested enforcing a complete lockdown for 14 days, meaning a complete shutdown of offices, mills, factories, book fair and businesses, except the emergency services. They also suggested involving public representatives to break the Covid transmission cycle.

It is the first official lockdown in Bangladesh to tamp the virus. On March 26 last year, the government had declared general holidays along with a transport shutdown instead of enforcing lockdown as the country was witnessing the surge in coronavirus transmission.

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Halfhearted' lockdown unproductive

Talking to the news agency, professor Muzaherul Huq, a former adviser to WHO South-East Asia region, said: "We can't call it a lockdown since the government has kept mills, factories, offices and even the book fair open. This is not the scientific way to restrict public movement."

He said lockdown means controlling the movement of people completely, except those who engaged in emergency services.

Muzaherul added, "It's an unscientific, unplanned and halfhearted lockdown. It won't help the nation get success in containing the virus transmission."

Noted virologist professor Nazrul Islam, also a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee, said lockdown is a universally accepted system to control the movement of people by shutting down everything, except emergency services.

He said, "A partial lockdown can be enforced in any particular area, not across the country. It'll be only waste of energy, loss of money. The desired goal can't be achieved with it."

Nazrul observed that people are not taking the lockdown seriously due to lax monitoring and enforcement of laws.

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Lockdown should be 14 days

Public health expert MH Chowdhury (Lenin), chairman of the medicine department at the Health and Hope Hospital, said a complete lockdown should be enforced for at least 14 days to slow down the virus transmission.

"Two weeks are an incubation period for coronavirus in human bodies. So, the virus transmission cycle can't be broken with a seven-day lockdown," he said adding that a situation should be created so that people don't dare to go outside unnecessarily. “Or else, we can't achieve anything from the relaxed lockdown," Lenin said.

Engaging public representatives

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Professor Nazrul Islam said it is not possible for the law enforcement agencies alone to implement the lockdown without the cooperation and involvement of people at every level, especially the public representatives.

He said a monitoring team should be formed at every locality to enforce the lockdown and stop the unnecessary public movement.

Moreover, he suggested the government come up with directives about how the local public representatives and administration can stand by poor people being hit hard by the shutdown.

"People will come out if there's no food at their homes," he said adding that there should be a clear directive as to how people will buy food and necessary items amid the lockdown maintaining health safety rules.

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Big blunder

Dr Abu Jamil Faisel, a member of the public health expert team formed for the eight divisions, said the government made a blunder by allowing people to leave Dhaka before the lockdown.

"Many people carrying the virus went to different places before the lockdown which will only help the virus spread fast across the country."

The expert said the government should have stopped the transport services before announcing the lockdown decision. "People would not have been able to leave Dhaka had the government done it."

The government issued an 18-point directive before enforcing the lockdown. "There was a plan to implement the directives through coordinated efforts by 10 ministries, but that didn't happen, and it ultimately forced the government to take a decision about the lockdown," said Faisel.

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