Dr. Md. Jafar Ullah
At the present time, Covid-19 is a horror throughout the world. Till today, it took over 3.5 lakh human lives along with 522 in Bangladesh as on 27th May 2020. This pandemic disease is still on its increasing trend and we do not know when it will stop. Neither any vaccine nor any drugs has so far been invented to get rid of it. Scientists say, only adopting the prevention measures could prevent this pandemic disease to a greater extent. However, compliance to obeying the social distance rules are poorly practised by most of the sects in Bangladesh, posing a threat of mass spreads of COVID-19. So, under this situation, we have to reformulate our approaches to assure the social distance.Covid-19, after having originated from china at the end of December last, gradually spread in the neighbouring countries of Asia and later on in the countries of Europe, Africa and America. Due to this, the infected countries adopted a number of measures to save people practicing quarantine of the infected persons, giving treatments in hospitals, and conforming physical distance (social distance).
To prevent its spread, the infected countries had to enforce lock down in areas or houses which were reported to had been infected. Such lock down was also extended to plying vehicles, offices, industries and business organizations as well. An elongated lock down, however, brought up economic depressions creating unemployment problem including disintegration in the food supply systems leading to a viable possibility of increasing poverty and initializing famine even in some of the developed countries.
In Bangladesh since March 26, due to imposition of the lockdown in garments, business and transport systems; unemployment problem has been critical for the daily earning people. Ban on transport system coupled with shrinkage of markets, the price of the agricultural produce dropped down along with massive rot and wastage of the fresh agricultural products that attributed for undergoing severe economic losses to the farmers.
Such situation compelled almost all the governments to withdraw the lockdown at least partially opening some garments, the shopping malls and some other commercial enterprises. In Bangladesh, it was experienced in the past days that the people almost neglected to obey the social distance rules. At the advent of the recent Eid Ul Fitr, city dwellers rushed moving towards villages to observe Eid on their own accords, despite the ban on public transports, making crowds in ferries and other public places.
Under this situation, government initially stopped ferries and directed the city dwellers to return. But it did not work and so the authority lifted the ban permitting the city dwellers going to villages using their own vehicles for Eid celebration. Such decision further accentuated situations of breaking the social distance rules massively. The health experts speculate that there was every possibility of spreading covid-19 from these city dwellers to the village people. This will aggravate further when these city dwellers and other returnees will cause mass gathering on their way back.
The infection of the covid-19 in Bangladesh has been increasing day by day at an alarming rate. Bangladesh do not have enough facility for providing test and treatments to the covid-19 patients. In case of wide spreads in the village level, neither the Upazilla nor the district level hospitals will be able to cope with the situation. Even those patients will not have choice of getting admitted to the big city hospitals as the number of covid-19 patients there are already beyond the capacities of those hospitals.
Under the above situation, a section of people, although aware of the social distance rule, do not obey it and even showing reluctant attitude in wearing masks while roaming about. Of course, some of them have to go out in search of foods for their family members, either by working or collecting food aid from elsewhere. But others are quite indifferent in following the social distance norms. If asked, they present lame excuses with polish laughter. These are actually disgusting to conscious citizens.
The above situation represents that the current situation is not so congenial for the social distance maintenance and has posed an environment which is favourable for corona spread. Government, in the meantime, has declared extending the withdrawal of lock down opening its offices from first June along with the resumption of shops and other business organizations. Under this situation, using masks should be compulsory for our citizens. As no other ways of social distance is in practice, this ‘wearing mask’ remains as the only alternative. If this could be executed, experts opine that corona will not spread so rapidly.
In favour of this compulsion, let us have an example. The corona virus spreads mainly through spit droplets when two or more persons talk to each other. When the person ‘A’ will talk to the person ‘B’, the person ‘A’ will be infected with spit droplets of the person B. Same is the case of the person ‘B’ who will be infected from the spit droplets of the person ‘A’ if they do not wear masks. So, if both the persons wear masks, nobody will be the source of infecting his counterpart as the corona will not travel due to the blockage by the mask they wore. Although experts approve only the N-95 masks for wearing, this type of mask is costly for the common people and are not available in the market as well. But I think, from the above example, a normal mask will play a remarkable role in preventing the COVID-19 from spreading from one person to another person.
For executing this idea, however, a law is to be enacted and the law enforcing agencies are to be empowered to impose financial or even physical punishment to the persons who disobey law to wear the masks. Otherwise, we may be witnesses seeing massive deaths of our people as has already been forecasted by the World Health Organization.
(Dr. Md. Jafar Ullah, is a Professor, Department of Agronomy, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka-1207.)
Wearing Mask Must Be Brought Under Compulsion In Bangladesh
Dr. Md. Jafar Ullah