Even those who take great care could become infected
I have just, this morning, walked on completely empty Banani streets to pick up Independence Day newspapers and special supplements but found that the vendors have not come today because of the coronavirus shutdown.
Mostly, I have seen people trying to observe “social distancing” and shop-keepers wearing masks and using gloves to handle money which can, indeed, carry infections. In one market area, a few days ago, someone came and squirted disinfectant at me which angered me as it burnt my eyes, and when I asked “why?” I was told that he had squirted at me because I am a foreigner and foreigners have brought the virus to Bangladesh.
I told him to follow the news properly, as it is returning Bangladeshis who have brought the virus. I told him that I last came back from abroad in July last year and showed him my Bangladesh national ID card. Unfortunately, this man focused on my surname and decided I was from France and squirted me again. I hurriedly moved away.
Usually, at this time I remember the month of March both 1971 and 1972. Now we will have another March, that of 2020, to remember.
I have to say that I have been overwhelmed by the concern of my Bangladeshi friends and colleagues. Because of my age (nearly 75) and that I live alone, they are concerned about if I am behaving properly and have enough food at home. One phone call asks, “Dadu, are you OK?” and another, “Baba, I forbid you to go out. Please stay at home!”
It is true that everyone needs to be very careful and follow advice, but even those who take great care can become infected by the Covid-19 virus. My own son, a doctor in the UK, was on UK national TV news (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpnJ2TzMqPs) speaking about the virus and yet the next day he was unwell and now is under home quarantine.
Fortunately, he was not badly affected and will be able to return to work after a 14-day quarantine.
The message is that you cannot be too careful. Everyone must follow all the official instructions and advice and not, for instance, follow the example we saw yesterday of the followers of Khaleda Zia when she was released from hospital.
An unruly and crazy crowd of people, and we can only hope that in that crowd there was nobody carrying the virus.
Julian Francis has been associated with relief and development activities of Bangladesh since the War of Liberation. In 2012, the government of Bangladesh awarded him the ‘Friends of Liberation War Honour’ in recognition of his work among the refugees in India in 1971, and in 2018 honoured him with full Bangladesh citizenship.