61 died from severe cold in northern region: People urgently need medicines and warm clothes

26 December 2022

At least thirty-two people have died of winter-related causes, including diseases such as respiratory illnesses, in Bangladesh's northern division of Rangpur. With the latest deaths, 61 people so far died in the northern division from cold-related diseases, and burn injuries relating to fire created by impoverished people for warmth, says a newspaper report on Sunday. The skies of northern districts remained covered with thick layers of fog for the third consecutive day when the sun was not seen even once.
A heavy fog disrupted traffic on the highway and flight schedule at Saidpur airport. Vehicles are moving with their headlights on in the middle of the day and slow vehicular movement led to traffic tailbacks at places in the region. On Saturday, the lowest minimum temperature of 100C was recorded at Badalgachhi and Tetulia with a significant fall in minimum temperature across Bangladesh. The nighttime minimum temperature dropped by nearly 30C to 14.30C in Dhaka on Saturday from 170C the day before. On Friday, the country's lowest minimum temperature of 8.40C was recorded at Badalgachhi, Naogaon. It was the lowest temperature recorded this winter so far.
Cold is especially dangerous for children and the elderly in northern and northwestern Bangladesh where many of the country's poor lives. Char dwellers floating in rivers got engulfed in a dense fog most of the day while being swept by a non-stop chilly wind. Diarrhoea becomes more prevalent among children during winter when rotavirus gets into wide circulation. The government should without any delay vaccinate children and the elderly free of cost against rotavirus and flu. Daily wage earners and farmers suffered a lot in the northern districts, often under-clothed, for they must go out in chilly weather.
Usually during winter, more than one cold wave visits December, with temperatures frequently falling below 10 degrees Celsius in northern Bangladesh. The Met Office predicted frequent cold waves in January and advised all to prepare for severe cold in pockets. We want the government should come up with plenty of support for the poor living in the northern low-income communities and urban poverty pockets. Besides, the non-government organizations, business and corporate bodies, and social and political entities should also stand by the poor in this frosty weather.

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