COVID-19 is a natural disaster. It causes irreparable losses in financial and other sectors all over the world. Almost all types of productions are impede or withheld. Result is widespread supply shortage. Many business treaties were postponed or cancelled. Economists, market analyzers, intellectuals hear the footsteps of famine in near future. Small traders, landless farmers, working class and impoverish people of poorer countries and even developing countries of different continents and subcontinents will fall in the crisis of existence. The outbreak of pandemic disease has caused global education disruption affecting about 98.5 percent of world’s students. Yet today there is no medicine, no remedy. Different world-class health organizations, pharmaceuticals, doctors, scientists, researchers have taken initiatives from different corners to invent its antidote. But it is not possible overnight. The medicine may be invented from medicinal herbs, chemicals, weaken virus or mixed medicine. But it is a time consuming project. Chickenpox was first identified in 1953 but vaccine was invented after 42 years. Hepatitis -B was identified in 1965 and vaccine was invented after 16 years. AIDS was identified in 1981. 39 years have passed, no vaccine has been appeared. So, yet today, we have to depend on some preventive measures, such as, wearing face masks in public, covering one’s mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, self-isolation, monitoring, long travel restrictions, banning public transport, banning public events, workplace hazard control, facility closures, lock down etc. Now we will try to show the insecure, perilous and hazardous sides of not maintaining lockdown system strictly. It is a matter of dilemma for the government to save life and livelihood simultaneously.
According to the report of the South Morning China Post on 17 November 2019 a 55- year old man was detected as the first man attacked by corona virus and he was the inhabitant of Hubei province of China. Up to 13 March the number of corona cases was recorded 81,000 only in China and 1,48,000 in the glove. It is a peculiar type of virus. It has no particular character or characteristic. In different countries it changes its character-characteristics. Dr. Jeffrey N. Martin, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, America, said, “In most individual persons, we do not know how the person got infected.”
The central government of China imposed lockdown in Hubei including Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, on 23 January 2020 to halt the spread of the disease. The China government suspended all types of public transport and strictly controlled public movement in the city areas. Only in Wuhan 11 million people came under quarantine system and over 57 million in 15 other cities. When the authority declared lockdown in this province they allowed only one person per family to exit once each two days. They strictly imposed lockdown, maintained social distance, compelled common people to stay in quarantine. That is why this fatal disease could not spread its black wings all over the country and the amount of death is very small.
The second country is Thailand where corona patient was detected on 13 January 2020. Then the Thailand authority imposed nationwide lockdown. In the first phase they imposed lockdown till April 30. Then on Monday, April 27 they extended lockdown until Sunday, May 31. The authority also declared that this measure will be extended on a month by month basis if necessary. The authority also implemented nationwide nightly curfew and prohibited any social gathering. Movement of general mass was controlled strictly. If anybody violate curfew he will be fined THB 40,000 or jailed for 2 years. International flights were restricted. The authority also closed some boarders.
How infectious the disease is! An Italian athlete who was 38 had attended a dinner with a colleague who two weeks prior to the dinner had returned from China, two weeks after the dinner the athlete became seriously ill and on 18 February 2020 he was proved corona positive. This athlete is the first corona patient in Italy.
Italy is the first country in Europe to affect so badly. The number of patients were increasing over night and to halt the outbreak of corona virus on 9 March the government imposed lockdown in the whole region of Lombardy and 14 other largely provinces and 10 municipalities. They temporarily closed non-essential shops and business. Public events were banned. But common people did not follow the government order exactly. In all the areas lockdown system was not applied properly and equally. The result is huge death. People came out from their houses in the name of essential work etc. Foreigners staying in Italy flied in the face of lockdown. Specialists believe that Italian authority should impose lockdown in February instead of March. They freed lockdown earlier to save their economy. It is another cause of numerous deaths in Italy.
Unfortunately the first COVID-19 patient found in America was also returned from China. The first confirmed corona infected case in the USA was reported on 20 January 2020. Then the virus spread very rapidly in every nook and corner of the United States. Once it was reported that within 24 hours 11,735 people were transited. Then came the question of lockdown. America is a mixed cultured country. Most of the people are British and Irish progeny. Besides these, American native black people, African black people and people from many other countries are living here. The government does not and cannot implement lockdown and other controlling system in all the states equally. The Guardian says- Corona virus outbreak, black Americans pay price as states lift lockdowns. Majority black counties already account for more than half of all corona virus cases in the US and nearly 60% of deaths. An Associated Press analysis of the country’s 100 largest cities found more than 60% of warehouse and delivery workers are people of colour. Meat packing plants are the hotspots of corona virus but here more than 50% of workers are people of colour.
There is no national policy on lockdown in America. The Atlantic says - In the absence of a national-level order, lockdown and other steps are not uniform in the whole county. Americans can still travel from one area to another potentially carrying COVID-19 from “hot zones” such as New York and Seattle to low-risk areas.
Even during the Zika outbreak American authority could not throw any strong and pragmatic decision. They only recommended that pregnant women avoid travel to southern Florida, the hotspot of Zika virus.
On March 28, US president Mr. Trump said he might order a two-week quarantine in New York, New jersey and Connecticut. In a report of New York Times it is says that when 1,000 people of 17 states were infected by COVID -19, Mr. Trump says-no quarantine is necessary.
In a report it is said that only Nebraska and California all schools were closed completely. There are 50 states in America. Crops, culture, weather, population, life style, jobs, habits are not same everywhere. Moreover, American people are over conscious about their individual liberty. So, central government cannot implement lockdown in all states equally and effectively. Result is huge death. Till today the number of death is more than 1 Lakh. This is the most of any country in the world.
Indian police also punish lockdown offenders. Saudi authority passed the curfew order and the violators will get punishment of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to SR3 million. We see that the countries that maintain social distance, quarantine and especially lockdown system with an iron hand their number of death is very small.
But in Bangladesh we do not perceive the rigorous consequence of this epidemic. Kitchen markets are overcrowded. Tea stalls, turning of the roads, ferry ghats, village bazaars- everywhere people are roaming and gossiping in a festive mood. We cannot realize the bloodcurdling effect of this type of pestilence. When plague appeared in1347 for the second time it was called ‘black death.’ It stayed in Europe for 4 years and 20 crore people were killed. In 1665 plague returned to London and 1 Lakh people were killed within 7 month only. At that time lockdown system was invented in London to keep people staying at home. Cholera started in Soviet Union in 1817. Then it visited Italy, America, China, Japan, Spin and Indian subcontinent. About 23 Lakh people were killed by this fatal disease. So we should not take the epidemic COVID-19 as a silly matter. Yet today, nobody knows how long this murrain will stay in our planate. People, who keep themselves in quarantine, maintain distance and lockdown are safe. Exception is rear found.
By reopening lockdown the government tries to save life and livelihood simultaneously. But it will be a challenging step. Now, workplace hazards will increase, the number of infected people will increase incredibly.
Writer: Zainul Abedin, Senior Lecturer, English
Milestone College, Uttara, Dhaka.
BDST: 1310 HRS, JUM 13, 2020