Government’s initiative to fight Coronavirus

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Published on August 9, 2020
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Countries around the world have come to a halt as the COVID-19 or Coronavirus is spreading out every minute. Reported first by China, it has already affected more than 200 countries. Since March 8, Bangladesh reported 257,600 cases till 9th August and 3,399 of them died. 148,370 people have recovered and sent home. The government is alert since the outbreak in China. Despite the lockdown of China with the rest of the world Bangladesh has managed to prepare itself for the pandemic and has taken numerous steps to curb the spreading and to keep people safe and sound.

HPM Sheikh Hasina’s ten directives:

To prevent Coronavirus from being a deadly threat than it is, HPM Sheikh Hasina chalked out ten directives for the responsible authorities. These are:

1. From 26th March, the public holiday has been announced and it will continue till 4th April (now extended till 30th May). At this time all establishments will be closed except markets-shops of raw materials, pharmaceuticals, food stores and regular necessities. All kinds of political, social and religious events will be closed. During this period, public transport has been limited but has been said to be avoided. All public transport drivers and assistants should take necessary precautions including masks.

2. At this time, if anyone has to go to the office or court to do the necessary work, they have to perform it online. Only those who feel the need during public office time will keep the office open.

3. The movement of public transports will be limited during the holiday but people have been advised to avoid public transports. If any passenger wants to travel by public transports on an emergency basis, he or she must take measures to avoid virus infection. Apart from wearing hand gloves and masks, the drivers and their assistants must take adequate cautionary measures.

4. Considering the necessity of commoners, Bangladesh Bank will give necessary directives in this regard to remaining the banking services operational in a limited way.

5. From March 24, the Army personnel will arrange treatment of COVID-19 patients and will quarantine the suspects at divisional and district levels.

6. The government will assist the urban low-income people, those who are affected due to coronavirus outbreak, under ‘Ghor a Fera Kormosuchi’ and the district administrations have been instructed in this regard.

7. The government has created livelihood opportunities and ensued accommodation for around one lakh people in Bhasan Char, Anwarul said the district administrations were instructed to send the interested people to this island so that they can avail the opportunities.

8. The district administrations have also been instructed to provide food and assistance to the poor people if they are affected due to the implementation of coronavirus prevention programmes.

9. Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) to prepare a list of 500 doctors so they can play their due role in containing the spread of coronavirus.

10. The government has imposed restrictions on all political, social and religious gatherings in the country, urging the people having COVID-19 syndromes not to go to mosques for prayers.

Government's initiatives to overcome post-Corona economic impact 

Health Services

Initially, the government prepared six hospitals in Dhaka to test Coronavirus and has been working on increasing the number of testing centers. Currently, 61 testing centers are operating around the country. 

Till date, 1,260,319 cases have been tested in these hospitals. To treat the infected people, the government initially prepared 14,565 isolation beds around the country including 10,050 in Dhaka. Currently, there are 539 ICU beds COVID-dedicated hospitals and 229 seats are vacant. Also, 11,169 beds are vacant among 15,228 general beds in these hospitals. 290 organisations have been prepared for institutional quarantine across the country. There are a total of 7,693 isolation beds in selected medical institutions in 8 divisions. 

Islamic Foundation has formed six teams for city corporation areas who will perform the funeral of the patients who died of Coronavirus.  

Several emergency numbers have been set up at IEDCR, these numbers are 16263 (Hotline), 333, 10655, 01944333222, 01401184551, 01401184554, 01401184555, 01401184556, 01401184559, 01401184560, 01401184563, 01401184568, 01927711784, 01927711785, 01937000011, 01937110011. Already 13.1 million people have received services through these emergency call centers. To provide services, 4602 health service providers are working voluntarily in these centers.  The government has also launched a website, www.corona.gov.bd to provide information about the available services.

Already 6200 isolation beds around the country are ready for people who tested positive of COVID-19. Also, 323 establishments are prepared for Institutional Quarantine. The government is also providing special training to doctors and nurses to fight this pandemic. Already 3625 doctors, 1314 nurses and medical technologists of 500 institutions have received the training. Besides, 10,812 doctors have completed online courses related to COVID-19.

Currently, 500 ventilators are available at government hospitals. Seven hundred more ventilators are being installed and 350 more will be imported. The health authority has prepared 100 ICU beds in hospitals and 300 more beds are being prepared.

To increase the supply of the safety measures, the government has exempted tariffs and taxes on importing alcohol for hand sanitizers, protective gear, germicides, testing kits, testing instruments, masks etc on two conditions. The importers can import only the fixed quantity determined by the Directorate of Drug Administration (DGDA) and DGDA will determine the quality of the products.  

Also, the government has set up a call center to know about the overall situation among citizens during this crisis. In this initiative, mobile phone customers can tell the authority if they have any breathing difficulties, coughing, or fever by dialling *3332#. After calling, an IVR voice will ask five questions. The answers will go directly to IEDCR, the center point of Coronavirus treatment and testing procedures in Bangladesh. After reviewing the answers, IEDCR will call the person back.

Measures to keep social distance:

To stop the virus from spreading, the government decided to shut down or limit activities of educational institutions, public and private offices and public transportations. Educational institutions will remain closed until further notice. Higher Secondary Certificate or HSC examinations are postponed and a new schedule will be announced after the termination of the lockdown. Public and private offices will remain closed until 30th May.

The government has taken a special initiative of video classes for students from Class Six to Ten. This ‘My School at My Home’ initiative is allowing the students to take subject wise video lessons at home which are being aired on Sangsad TV.

All the international flights except one weekly to China are cancelled since 31st March. Domestic flights are cancelled until further notice.   

To avoid gatherings, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has instructed its customers to pay the gas bills from February to May in June and they will not be charged with any late fees. Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) has instructed its distributing agents to assist the customers with recharging the prepaid electric meters. Customers can give a call to 16116 and ask for assistance.  

Every supermarket, shopping centers are allowed to open until 5 PM with proper health safety measures. The market-shops of raw materials, superstores, medicine stores, grocery stores will remain open till 5 PM.

Public transportation and railway will remain closed until 30th May. Waterways will remain closed until further notice.

To stop people from gathering outside their house, the government has deployed the Army from 24th March to assist non-military forces like Police. The government has issued punishment orders for those who will not obey the order for home quarantine and shutdown.

Tackling Rumours and Price Hike

Law enforcement agencies have taken action against 20 Facebook IDs and pages for spreading rumours and false news regarding Coronavirus. Also, 50 more pages and IDs have been identified by the law enforcement agencies and arrested 20.  

Trading Corporation of Bangladesh or TCB is selling daily necessities with fair value. It has set up 50 selling points in Dhaka and 300 points around the country. This is a regular initiative for low-income groups. During the Corona pandemic, TCB has increased the selling points.

To prevent the businessmen and sellers from hiking the price of safety products daily necessities, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection is working countrywide. Their teams are paying regular visits to markets and even responding to complaints from general people. The online shops are also under observation.