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OP-ED: This is not the time for complacency

  • Published at 05:21 am August 4th, 2021
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MEHEDI HASAN

Many of us still don’t seem to understand how serious Covid-19 is

In movies like Troy, you will see body armour (both on the head and the body) worn by combatants in warfare -- this body armour protects the wearer against various physical attacks.

Since 2020, the whole world is fighting against the deadly virus Covid-19. In this warfare, we also have body armour, namely face masks and vaccines. It has been said time and time again: Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy to suppress transmission, and vaccination is critical to ending the Covid-19 pandemic. I must say, most people in my country seem rather indifferent to these protective measures against Covid-19.

I have talked to a number of people regarding masking up and vaccination. When I ask the people around me, “why don’t you put on face masks?” a segment of them replies: “Buying a face mask is above my means.” But I know they go to the mall often and purchase plenty of beauty products. Another segment replies: “I don’t feel comfortable using it.” Pathetic, isn't it?

The same shocking complacency and indifference are found in the case of vaccination. I find people willfully refusing vaccines. Be it an educated person or an uneducated person, apathy to wearing masks and vaccinating are witnessed. It sounds fatalistic to me.

Let me share something from my experience. When I visited the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela (book fair) 2021 several times, everyone present there was wearing a face mask and maintaining physical distance.

Unfortunately, this year’s book fair was unlike anything Bangladesh has seen. There were stalls and books, but the number of book buyers was very low. I saw a glimpse of despair in the eyes of the publishers, as they had to count losses. At that time, I thought people had less money in their pockets to afford books.

A few days later, I had to go to Computer City at New Elephant road to fix my laptop. When I was returning home, I could barely walk through the streets of New Market due to the immense crowds. Most of the people had gone there to shop. 

The most shocking example of complacency I found was that almost everyone went to the shopping mall without wearing face masks, let alone maintaining physical distance.

I was able to reach Nilkhet, thank God. After arriving at Nilkhet, the scenario was the exact opposite. I found the place quite calm and free. Bookstores at Nilkhet were also mostly empty. No crowd, no gathering at all.

At a time when people cannot afford books, they can afford to shop. You can easily see the misery, the misfortune of us as a nation.

I am not blaming people for going to the shopping mall. What I am trying to say is that we need to be far more serious, practical, and realistic. My point is that this is no time for complacency. 

According to the Dhaka Tribune report, Bangladesh has witnessed the death toll from the coronavirus infection crossing the grim milestone of 21,000, as the country continues to battle a deadly second wave induced by the Delta variant.

It is impossible to live completely safe lives. In the prevailing social, economic, and demographic realities of Bangladesh, maintaining physical distance is a fantasy. Because we have to work by going out and earning our means.

All we can do is take possible precautions available to us. Stay safe, people.

Md Jahid Hashan is a graduate of political science and a freelance contributor.

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