In recent weeks, 25% of all Covid-related deaths took place in July alone at over 200 deaths per day
There is no denying that Bangladesh and Bangladeshis have shown great resilience over the past year and a half to retain an impressive GDP growth rate over 5%, much higher than most in the world and far surpassing that of our neighbours, some of whom have experienced negative growth within the same time span.
However, despite the exponentially-increasing Covid-19 death rate which led the government to rightfully impose strict lockdowns before and after the Eid holidays -- in recent weeks, 25% of all Covid-related deaths took place in July alone at over 200 deaths per day -- export-oriented industries such as RMG reopened on Sunday, with the government allowing public transport in order to facilitate the workers and their commute.
From one angle, such “desperate” measures do make sense: The economy, no matter the growth, has undoubtedly faltered compared to pre-Covid times and has jeopardized the government’s efforts in poverty reduction, as millions of people struggled to maintain an income.
Worries are perhaps more exacerbated by the recent news of Vietnam having overtaken Bangladesh in the global apparel market, becoming the second-largest exporter of ready-made garments behind China.
But, if we recall, Vietnam’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was one of the best in the world, reacting quickly to the crisis by blocking off all entry points and coupled with a nationwide campaign to raise awareness regarding the virus. Our response, unfortunately, was far from ideal at the start.
As such, instead of half-hearted lockdowns and a growing list of exceptions, we should consider choosing the side of the most vulnerable members of our society whose livelihoods depend on working outside of their homes through stimulus packages which bring Covid-related cases down, once and for all.
This short-term sacrifice may pave the way for a healthier nation, one that can return to work without pandemic-induced illness or death hanging over their heads, so that we may re-focus our efforts on regrowing our export-oriented industries.