1698Published on May 4, 2021
Pranab Kumar Panday:
When almost all the countries of the world are making desperate efforts to tackle the scourge of coronavirus, the visionary leadership of Sheikh Hasina has been appreciated all over the world in tackling the COVID-19 catastrophe. Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, every decision taken by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been proved to be successful. If we think about the first wave of the Corona pandemic, the government's decision to announce public holidays instead of lockdown was highly criticized by many.
Even during public holidays, the decision to open mills and factories, including garments, was widely criticized by public health experts. Many said that such a decision could have been suicidal because it could lead to a catastrophe in the infection rate of COVID-19. However, in practice, that did not happen, and the wheel of the economy was moving.
We could control the rate of the infection quickly. Even thinking about the horrors of Corona, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rescheduled or curtailed many of the programmes that were scheduled to be organized as part of the celebration of Bangabandhu's birth centenary and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence.
During the Corona period, when many of the giant world economies have achieved negative growth, at the same time, Bangladesh has achieved much better growth than other countries. According to the ADB, Bangladesh's growth will be around five and a half to six per cent in the current financial year, even after the catastrophe triggered by the Corona pandemic.
As a result of our Prime Minister's prudent decision, when the coronavirus was being controlled to a great extent, the common people started living a normal life again, ignoring the safety protocols prescribed by the government and WHO. Because Bangladesh was relatively less affected by the first wave of Corona, a kind of thinking was established among the people that the coronavirus would not affect Bangladesh.
As a result, most people were reluctant to follow safety rules. Even those who had been confined to the house for a long began to wander around. We have also seen over two and a half lakh people gathered in Cox's Bazar in one day. Besides, we have noticed overflowing crowds at various tourist spots in the country. As a result, the Corona situation took a turn for the worse over the past month. However, the Prime Minister deserves to be thanked again for controlling the rate of corona infection in the second wave by implementing the lockdown at the very right time.
When the government implemented the lockdown, the number of patients tested per day was 22 to 25 per cent. However, due to the implementation of the three-week lockdown, that rate has come down to 9 per cent. However, we need to keep in mind that even if the infection rate drops to 9 per cent, we still have not achieved our desired goal.
This rate has to be brought to zero and held there. We have already noticed that the government has decided to open shops and shopping malls out of concern for the people involved in the business. There is a tendency among the people to go for marketing ahead of Eid which is not uncommon. Again there is a tendency among many to go from town to village to celebrate Eid with their relatives. However, the situation is likely to worsen if we do not comply with health safety regulations.
During the tragic aftermath of this coronavirus, which has been going on for over a year now, we have noticed that the government has tried desperately to provide various kinds of assistance to the poor. The government has implemented a large incentive package to keep the economy afloat. Even medical services have been provided free of cost to people affected by Corona. No one has offered a definite outline of when we will be getting out of this lethal infectious virus.
The government has already wisely vaccinated about 10 million people at such a time when many developed countries of the world are struggling to manage vaccine for their citizens. Two crores more vaccines have been purchased which have not yet come from India due devastating Corona situation in India. In the meantime, the government has signed agreements with Russia and China to import the vaccine. However, we must bear in mind that it has not been scientifically proven that a person will be completely protected if the vaccine is given.
Meanwhile, our Prime Minister has already placed her demand to the international community to recognize the vaccine as a "Global Public Good", which has been appreciated worldwide. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s political wisdom has been proved by placing such a demand in the international forums.
Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly urged the countrymen to abide by the safety protocols. If we do not follow the safety rules, the situation could get worse at any time. Reviewing the Corona situation in Bangladesh to date, it can be said very clearly that the government and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wisely took every decision in overcoming this situation. Due to her able leadership, Coronavirus situation Bangladesh has not taken a terrible turn as of now.
However, the kind of assistance that the government expects from the people during the pandemic has not yet reached the desired level. What people need to do at this moment is to stay at home, wear masks when go out, avoid public gatherings, and adhere to social distance.
Therefore, the situation can get worse at any time if we still do not control our movements. In dealing with the situation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has kept the economy afloat and protected the people from the horrors. That is why the Commonwealth has rightly chosen Sheikh Hasina as one of the three inspirational leaders in the world to lead the fight against the Corona pandemic.
Writer: Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi