“It’s not possible for the government to keep the country locked down forever,” said Professor Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, president of the National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19.
Public health expert Dr Mushtuq Husain said the government had to allow the reopening because Bangladesh, not being a welfare state, does not have the economic structure to support people sufficiently in a crisis such as this.
“It’s impossible for (the poor) to comply with the lockdown. They don’t have enough food for a week, although our country is self-sufficient in food,” Mushtuq, who is also a leftist leader, said, pointing out the inequality in the country.
There will almost be no restrictions from Wednesday, much like a nine-day break in the lockdown in July for Eid-ul-Azha that presumably drove the number of coronavirus cases and deaths even after the government had reimposed the curbs.
“The health rules were followed to some extent in the lockdown. But we all will go out of home now. So we must emphasise wearing masks and keeping physical distancing,” said Dr Shahidullah.
Raising awareness, making tests easier to access, and speeding up the vaccination drive are the key to reducing the risks of infections, he said.
“Many patients have been detected by increasing the number of tests. They would have roamed free had they not tested.”
Dr Mushtuq thinks infections will drop in the last week of August as a result of the lockdown. The effects of the reopening will be visible after another two weeks.
“We must wear masks as much as possible, and monitor the places of gathering, especially bus and train stations. Otherwise, infections cannot be brought down,” he said.
Dr ABM Abdullah, a former dean of the medicine faculty at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, thinks lockdowns are not an effective measure for Bangladesh now as the number of cases has not dropped despite the restrictions.
“Instead, the authorities should get people to strictly follow the health rules,” he said.
“People must keep in mind that complying with the health rules and getting vaccinated are key to protect themselves from the coronavirus. These will be more useful than lockdown if followed properly.”