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Experts express concern over mass exodus

Strict enforcement of lockdown demanded

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23rd-May-2020       
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Reza Mahmud:
Public health experts have expressed deep frustrations over government's measures on battle against coronavirus.
They also raised concern over the mass exodus from Dhaka during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr though the government has extended public holidays and transport shutdown until May 30 to restrict people's movement to contain the virus.
"Many people have started venturing out for their village homes using alternative vehicles, triggering a fresh worry of spreading the coronavirus in non-infected areas," said Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, former Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
He warned that the number of infections may go up significantly as the authorities allowed holidaymakers to use personal cars to leave Dhaka during Eid holiday despite the pandemic.
Expressing his frustration over the latest government's move, Dr Nazrul Islam said,  "We are in dark about the government's such decision and even nobody from the government bother to discuss with the members of the 'National Technical Advisory Committee' in this regard."
Earlier the government formed the Committee to recommend it about policies to tackle the virus.
Dr Islam, who is also a key member of the Committee, suggested imposing strict enforcement of lockdown and social-distancing measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.   "If Covid-19 patients move to other districts from Dhaka it will be very dangerous in all accounts," he added.
He also said that the government is not following the recommendations of the public health experts. Even it reopened garment industries before controlling the pandemic.
A large number of city dwellers were seen leaving 
Dhaka through different exit points on Friday amid the alarming spike in coronavirus cases.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Benazir Ahmed earlier directed police officers to take steps so that people neither can leave nor enter Dhaka taking advantage of the upcoming Eid vacation and the ongoing general holidays.
He also urged people not to go to their village homes from the capital and other cities during the general and Eid holidays and follow the health guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the instruction, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) strengthened their monitoring by setting up check-posts on different highways to strictly restrict the movement of people ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mamun on Friday said that people can go to their village homes on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr using "personal" vehicles following health directives.
However, no type of public transport can be used for the journey, said the DG.
Mamun came up with the remarks during a views-exchange meeting with reporters through video conference from the Rapid Action Battalion headquarters regarding steps taken by the elite force centring Eid and the ongoing coronavirus situation.
The Rab chief said that anyone following the health guidelines can go to their villages in their personal vehicles. However, it is not possible to travel by public transport.
Asked about risks, the Rab DG said that the government has taken the decision thinking of people's welfare.
The DMP withdrawn its checkpoints on the exit routes of Dhaka on Friday in an apparent move to allow people to leave Dhaka during Eid holidays amid countrywide restriction on public movement to thwart coronavirus spread.
People will be allowed to travel to their destinations in 'private vehicles' during this Eid as the authorities have withdrawn major checkpoints at different entry-exit points in the capital, said a police officer on Friday.
Prof Dr Harun-or-Rashid, Head of Medicine Department at Dhaka Community Medical College & Hospital (DCMCH), said most areas in the country are still free from the coronavirus. "If people carrying the virus go to their village homes ahead of the Eid, it'll spread to many uninfected areas. It'll be suicidal if we allow infected people to go to uninfected areas as it'll only help the virus to last long in the country."
He urged the law enforcers to strengthen their monitoring further and prevent people from leaving the capital in any way, or else, we've to pay a heavy price.

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