The government has very little to do if an individual ignores quarantine regulations
There is no alternative to ensuring proper quarantine for confirmed and suspected Covid-19 patients to limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and relevant health experts.
In line with such instructions, the government has been trying to ensure that these people are quarantined at home or at dedicated institutions.
It is, however, very logical to question the effectiveness of the system as coronavirus infections and deaths are breaking previous records almost every day.
Awareness and willingness
Eight-year-old Mohona Rani Dey tested positive for Covid-19 on April 23, making her the first victim of the disease in Bhola’s Borhanuddin upazila.
Her father, who works in Sylhet, returned home just a few days ago. Her house, which has 13 rooms for different families belonging to her clan, was locked down after her test results came back.
Sanjay Dey, a resident of the house, said the upazila administration had sealed the main entrance of the house and stationed two Village Defence party members there.
“However, houses in villages do not have concrete boundary walls; anyone can enter or leave as they wish,” he added.
“It is unreasonable to expect everyone to abide by quarantine rules without raising awareness among people first,” commented Sanjay.
On May 30, one Firoz Alam tested Covid-19 positive from the same upazila. But the results came too late.
The authorities learnt that he had gone to Dhaka after providing his sample on May 24.
What of his 14-day quarantine?
Rony Talukder, a Dhaka University student living in Azimpur, said: “Our building was locked down by local police after a person here tested Covid-19 positive.”
He added that even though police were supervising the situation, properly maintaining quarantine was totally up to a person’s willingness to do so.
Ahammad Foyez, a resident of Khilgaon, also found his building locked down after one of its residents tested positive.
"The police slapped a notice at the entrance and warned of legal action against anyone violating the conditions," said Foyez, who works for an English language daily newspaper.
“But whether they follow the rules diligently or not is dependent on the residents themselves,” he remarked.
Azizur Rahman, the joint focal person of the “Quarantine Management Integrated Control Room for Covid-19” at DGHS, said: “Institutional quarantine is monitored by the local police stations, health department and the local administrations.
“For home quarantine, initially we hung red flags to mark the houses. But it is not possible now as the number of people quarantined at home is very large. Currently, the local administration and the health department monitor the home-quarantined people,” he added.
In Azizur’s opinion, maintaining quarantine properly was impossible without raising public awareness first.
Dr Ruhul Furkan Siddique of the department of public health and informatics at Jahangirnagar University, said: “Considering the global situation, keeping all suspected patients in institutional quarantine is not realistic.”
“Proper home quarantining has to be ensured. Doctors are now suggesting that even some confirmed patients be kept in home quarantine,” he added.
“The English terms lockdown, quarantine and isolation are unknown to the general public. To make them understand the situation, the authorities have to introduce words that are easily understandable,” commented Dr Furkan, who is a former director of DGHS.
“Nowadays media outlets are constantly broadcasting news and hosting talk shows on the pandemic, but they have to be conscious about using easier language instead of jargon to make it easier for the public to understand,” opined the professor.
Any person who has come into contact with a confirmed Covid-19 patient must stay in quarantine for 14 days, as per instructions of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), to save themselves and their families.
Till date, 287,879 people have been quarantined across the country. Of them, 15,540 were quarantined institutionally and 272,339 in their own homes. As of June 1, 59,136 people were still in quarantine, while 228,743 had completed the quarantine period.