May the New Year bring an end to the dark days

Prothom Alo illustration

Exactly a year ago we wrote that this time Pahela Baishakh, the Bangla New Year, has arrived at a time of crisis. The novel coronavirus had emerged on the scene and spread throughout the world. At that time 39 persons had died in Bangladesh of Covid and 803 cases had been detected. A year later, the death toll stands at 9,891 and the number of cases at over 697,000.

The second wave of coronavirus has hit. Over 7000 persons are contracting the virus per day, on average. And the daily death toll, on average, is over 70. With the sudden surge in the number of patients, the hospitals are under pressure.

A lockdown had been enforced around this time last year to contain the spread of coronavirus. This time too, from Wednesday a lockdown has been declared. The government is trying to curb public gatherings and this lockdown is part of the efforts to this end.

The question is, how effective can a lockdown really be in a country with such a dense population as Bangladesh. Large numbers of people are facing a livelihood crisis. For over a year now, lower income people have been suffering. Their standard of living has plummeted. Many people are being pitched into poverty.

In the meantime, the Bangla New Year has arrived amid the somber circumstances of rising deaths, Covid cases, overcrowded hospitals and mounting livelihood struggles. This is not the time for us to celebrate. Even so, as we usher in the Bangla year 1428, we extend our greetings to all and wish everyone good health. May Pahela Baishakh usher in new hope, new dreams and fresh determination.

The main element of Pahela Baishakh festivities is its universality. Let this spirit be manifest in national unity, harmony and solidarity. This grave crisis requires each and everyone to display a sense of responsibility and cooperation. By keeping ourselves away from the risk of contracting coronavirus, we are protecting others against the risk. That is why we must all follow the rules of the lockdown, and even after that, avoid gatherings as much as possible, maintain social distancing, wear masks, wash our hands frequently and follow the other rules of health and hygiene.

It must be kept in mind that the objective of the government directives is to ensure the health and well being of the people. Other’s safety is dependent on my safety, so everyone’s responsible behaviour is the best way to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Special attention must also be paid to the overall improvement of the medical system and management in order to save the lives of the Covid patients. As the number of Covid patients is now more than ever before, all-out efforts must be made to ensure oxygen supply and expansion of ICU facilities.

The second wave of coronavirus has created a fresh crisis for the poor. As we enter the new year, we must also extend our hand of help towards them. Well-to-do people and various organisations should take up initiatives to deliver food to the poor, particularly the children, while maintaining social distance and hygiene rules.

On this first day of the New Year, we pray that the people of the entire world are freed from this onslaught of coronavirus. May these dark days come to an end.