Tackling the winter this year may be a tough battle with fears of a second wave of the coronavirus looming, says the DC
The World Health Organization warned in September that Covid-19 was spreading at a worrying pace in some parts of the northern hemisphere. An escalation is feared to be exacerbated by winter diseases like cough and cold, which are also common symptoms of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
Bangladesh, like the rest of the world, has been discussing the possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus during winter this year as the cold weather slowly sets in. Last month, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked all to be prepared for a possible surge in Covid-19 cases, prompting top officials of the administration and law enforcement to consult experts.
This warning worries the people of Thakurgaon, a northern district of Bangladesh, where cold waves in multiple phases bring death and disaster every year.
Locals say because of the continuous rains of the last few days the mercury has been dropping early before the onset of winter this year.
Although the days are still warm in the district, the nights till early mornings have now started becoming shivering cold. The night-long fog leaves dew particles accumulating on the grass and the tops of paddy plants.
In villages, far from the bustle of the town, women are seen sitting under a tree next to the house sewing old Nakshi Kantha (winter quilts), a winter tradition in rural Bangladesh.
Md Kashem, a vegetable farmer, said various types of viruses had started attacking his crops since the temperature started dropping early this year. “There is no alternative to applying pesticides to protect my crops. This usually does not happen in October.”
Bus driver Md Ainal said he had been struggling to drive in the morning for the past few days with heavy fog on the roads whereas he did not see any fog at this time last year.
Concerned about the severity of this year’s winter as well as the potential second wave of the coronavirus, Khalilur Rahman and Khairun, elderly people in Mohammadpur village, tearfully said: “What will happen to us this time? Coronavirus is coming and so is the cold winter! What will we eat, what will we wear? O Allah, look after us.”
Aftab Hossain, deputy director of Thakurgaon Agriculture Extension Department, said water had accumulated in the high and low lands due to the continuous rains. “Various types of viruses can appear in winter vegetables due to the stagnant cold rainwater.”
Field staff of the department are assisting farmers to tackle the crop diseases that are brought out by the cold weather, he added.
Rakibul Alam, resident medical officer at Thakurgaon Sadar Hospital, said public awareness campaigns were underway to educate people about the potential dangers of the coming winter. “The hospital has staff that have been properly trained and 50 additional beds for potential patients of winter diseases and the coronavirus.”
Thakurgaon Deputy Commissioner Dr ABM Kamruzzaman Selim said: “Since this district has a history of cold winters, we distribute blankets among the elderly and the marginalized every year.”
Saying that he would take initiatives to increase the number of blankets during distribution this year, he warned that tackling the winter this year might be a tough battle with fears of a second wave of the coronavirus looming. “But with cooperation from everyone, I believe we can successfully mitigate the potential disaster.”