It seems the government policymakers at last have realised the need for containing the second wave of coronavirus infection as the government released a notification with an 18-point guideline on Sunday. It is assumed that with the rising number of infections and deaths, it will be difficult to keep the situation under control without taking stern action immediately. Such realisation might have resulted in the decision for a lockdown. Yet, there are differences between imposing such directives and implementing them properly. It is essential to consider the overall scenario prior to announcing such directives. Instructions that are not feasible and convenient for the people should not be imposed.
The notification broadly states what can and cannot be done from today 6:00am to 12:00pm on 11 April. Public and private offices will remain open, meaning there are no restrictions on people going to work. But there is a ban on all types of public transport. So how do people go to work? According to the notification, people working in government, semi-government and private offices will have to be provided with company transports. Even if all these organisations have that capacity, it is not clear whether the capacity is adequate. But how realistic is this instruction that the private industries, construction companies and such organisations have to arrange transports for their workers? Will Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the garment industries, be able to implement the government's directive?
On the other hand, all kitchen markets will be open from 8:00am to 4:00pm. But if public transport is closed, how will people go to the market? Will there be enough vehicles to transport the goods? If the supply of goods in the market is low, the price will go up and the financial pressure will fall on the consumers.
The banking system is said to be limited. But how will people go to the bank for financial transactions? The bigger problem is that a large number of people live on a daily income, how will they survive these seven days? Will the government take responsibility of their families? Will it deliver food to their homes?
Looking at the instructions in the notification, it seems that their target is mainly the people of the city. But a large number of the 170 million people of Bangladesh live in rural areas. In rural areas, most of the public gatherings happen in bazaars. As per the instructions in the notification, will the rural kitchen markets also remain open? What are the guidelines for tackling the infection?
In fact, if public transport is stopped, the normal flow of life, including the economy, stops. It is difficult to say how many of the 18 points issued without using the word 'lockdown' in the notification can be implemented. But with the rise in infections and deaths, there is no room for complacency.
Therefore, prudence and foresight are required to make decisions in the overall public interest, so that no decision leads to confusion and new problems, and leads to misery in public life. Everyone must strive to deal with the second wave of pandemic by maintaining social and physical distance and adhering to hygiene rules and improving the overall management of treatment for Covid patients.