• Monday, May 25, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:57 pm

Is poverty a bigger threat than the coronavirus?

  • Published at 09:49 pm March 29th, 2020
Poverty
Photo: SYED LATIF HOSSAIN

The coronavirus, the biggest pandemic in recent years, has caused quite a pandemonium globally

In a developing nation like Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Covid-19 poses a big threat. An outbreak could mean thousands of people being infected and the lack of proper medical care could lead to a disaster. 

The Bangladeshi government, however, has been successful in containing the virus so far. With schools shut and offices closed, many businesses have halted their operations in order to slow down the spread; pushing many into uncertainty. People in the low-income groups, with hardly any savings, are to face the biggest danger.

There are very few rickshaws and auto-rickshaws that can be seen plying through the unusually empty streets of Dhaka; once asked why they were defying the government’s instruction to stay at home, one auto-rickshaw driver replied saying he has no other option, with only a week’s savings to rely on.

The situation has raised questions among many about how this income group would cope with this economic shutdown -- many city dwellers have come forward, with the help of social media, to collect donations and provide food to help those in need to sustain longer. But with no solid plans for the future, relying on these donations do not establish a lot of confidence among the daily wage earners. 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, mentioned taking wider social security measures for those in low income groups to help tackle the crisis. The prime minister announced that these people will receive government assistance under ‘Ghore Fera Kormosuchi’, a government program. Deputy commissioners will take necessary measures to provide the assistance. 

However, the real question remains: For how long will they be provided with food? With added pressures caused by an increasing rate of unemployment -- as the garments sector is struggling to cope with the cancelled orders worth around US$ 2 billion -- only time will tell what other measures the government of Bangladesh plans to take to cope with such challenging times, and control any the long-term impacts this pandemic is bound to leave behind. 


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