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Covid advisory panel shocked by decision to relax lockdown

  • Published at 01:00 pm July 14th, 2021
lockdown
SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

The restrictions have been relaxed from Wednesday midnight to 8am July 23 ahead of travel and shopping rushes over Eid-ul-Azha

The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 is shocked by the government’s decision to relax the strict lockdown across Bangladesh for nine days ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.

Committee members said they did not agree with the move and the decision is completely opposite to what they had advised, reports Bangla Tribune.

Such relaxation at this time, when Covid-19 cases and deaths are surging alarmingly, is tantamount to lifting the restrictions, they added.


Also Read- What can we learn from last Eid-ul-Fitr?


The public health experts also said such an announcement at the “peak time” of the pandemic will only make the situation worse down the line, where the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) is repeatedly advising to avoid crowds.

Public transport, shopping malls, sacrificial cattle markets and other socialization will only increase the number of cases and deaths. The consequences will be seen within a week after Eid, added the experts.

Photo shows a jampacked street in the capital’s Jatrabari area on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneOn Tuesday, the Cabinet Division had issued the notification relaxing the nationwide strict lockdown -- which was imposed earlier this month to curb the spread of Covid-19 -- for nine days from Thursday.

The restrictions have been relaxed from July 14 midnight to 8am July 23 in the interest of celebrating the holy Eid-ul-Azha, conducting pre-Eid business, keeping the country’s socio-economic condition and economic activities normal, said the notice.


Also Read - Bangladesh lifts Covid curbs for Eid despite catastrophic surge in infections


After highest daily caseload

The announcement of easing the lockdown came just a day after Bangladesh recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases (13,768) in 24 hours between Sunday and Monday mornings.

NTAC members said the restrictions should be made tougher at this time but instead they are being relaxed, which is very shocking. The people do not follow the health guidelines and the relaxation is just increasing the risk of more infections.

NTAC chief Prof Dr Md Sahidullah said: “If the lockdown was extended for another week, we could have seen a downward trend in the number of cases and deaths.

“We had advised keeping the strict lockdown in place for two more weeks. But now as it has been relaxed, everyone is going to come out of their house and flout the health guidelines, resulting in more infections.”


Also Read - What’s the right time to lift the lockdown?


NTAC member Prof Dr Iqbal Arslan also told Bangla Tribune: “This move has surprised and shocked us.

“Relaxing the restrictions will not only worsen the situation but will ruin everything achieved in the last two weeks of lockdown.”

“More than 200 deaths have been reported in the past few days. This move will cause this number to go up even more,” added Prof Nazul Islam, another member of the committee.

Long queues of traffic amid the ongoing countrywide strict lockdown at Dhaka’s Shahbagh area on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka TribuneEchoing their shock and concern, Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research Adviser Dr Mushtaq Hossain said: “We are yet to see the results of the last 14 days of strict lockdown. I was optimistic that the number of cases might start to subside. But that’s not happening anymore.”

He added that the infection rate was around 30% already. “At a time like this, the lockdown has been relaxed. Easing the restrictions for nine days is the same as lifting the lockdown altogether.”


Also Read - BNP: Easing lockdown, a wrong decision


The country had recorded 12,198 new Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours between Monday and Tuesday mornings, the second-highest single-day jump since the first three cases were detected here on March 8 last year.

During the same period, health authorities also recorded 203 deaths and 7,646 recoveries.

The latest additions took the country’s death toll to 16,842, the total number of cases to 1,047,155 and the number of recoveries to 889,167.

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