By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – At least 10 million people left Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, half of the total inhabitants of the city, on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr amid nationwide lockdown, violating social distance and COVID-19 health guidelines, according to official data.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency over the telephone on Sunday, Bangladesh’s Post and Telecommunication Minister, Mustafa Jabbar, said that more than 10.6 million mobile SIM users left Dhaka from May 4-15.
“What we can say is that a huge number of people, maybe little less or higher than 10 million left capital Dhaka during Eid vacation through various mediums, violating lockdown provisions and prime minister’s request,” Jabbar said.
In the wake of the deterioration pandemic situation in the neighborhood in India, Bangladesh had imposed a nationwide lockdown in April.
Except for limited intercity services, all sorts of public transports have been banned under the lockdown and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina repeatedly urged people not to leave places during this Eid to stem the spread of the virus.
But a large number of people departed the city using buses and ferries. Even five people were killed and dozens of others fell sick in the stampede. Many others were also reportedly killed in road accidents during the Eid vacation.
Describing the situation as “dangerous”, the minister said there will be an impact of violating the protocols.
“A large number of people reached villages and there were massive interactions. Now they will return to the densely populated Dhaka. We are very concerned about what those people carried to their villages from Dhaka and what they will return with from the remote regions of the country,” he said.
The government has extended the lockdown till May 23.
“I earnestly request people to return to Dhaka after the lockdown with proper maintenance of COVID-health rules,” said the minister.
– Concern at the escalation of pandemic
Describing the people’s crazy departure as “terrible”, he urged them not to meet relatives in villages randomly.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Amir Faisal Mohammad Zakaria, head of IT at a private life insurance company in Dhaka, said he was worried about his two kids. He said the government must be conscious about when these people return to Dhaka.
Tanvir Shahnaj, a housewife of the capital Dhaka’s Mirpur area, also expressed her concerns about the possible escalation of the pandemic.
“There were some mismanagements. The government stopped public transports, but some people having links with the ruling party-controlled microbuses and carried people in overload and charged fares of several times more than the normal rate”, she said.
Another city dweller Khalilur Rahman, hailing from the country’s northern district, who also left Dhaka using the microbus said: “It was far better if all transports were open with the condition of carrying passengers in half of the capacity and proper maintenance of social distance and other set health rules.”
According to the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Bangladesh has reported 779,796 COVID-19 infections with 12,124 deaths. The country has so far fully vaccinated 3.65 million people, making it 2.24% of its population.