BNP on Tuesday demanded the government shut down schools and colleges at least for two weeks to avoid the spread of coronavirus in the country.
“We think educational institutions, including schools and colleges, need to be closed immediately. At least a two-week closure is needed at the initial stage, and then further steps can be taken observing the situation,” said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.He made the demand at a press conference at their party’s Nayapaltan central office.
Justifying their demand, the BNP leader said students, including children, and their guardians gather in large numbers at educational institutions when experts suggest avoiding mass gatherings to prevent coronavirus outbreak.
Two Bangladeshis, who recently returned from Italy, were tested positive for COVID-19. A third person was infected after coming in contact with one of the returnees.
Health experts have urged people to avoid unnecessary mass gathering to prevent the spread of the virus, first reported in China’s Wuhan.
The issue of educational institution closure has been discussed widely since the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) confirmed the detection of three coronavirus cases in the capital.
However, Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Monday said the situation still did not reach such a level to shut down the schools and colleges.Fakhrul alleged that the government has failed to take proper preparations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
He said the government has specified three hospitals in the capital for treating the coronavirus-infected patients, but the other patients from those hospitals are yet to be shifted. “Dengue and coronavirus are not the similar type of disease. Other patients at the hospitals will be infected if the coronavirus-affected ones stay there with them.”
The BNP leader said the government should take steps to keep only coronavirus- infected patients at the specified hospitals.
He also said doctors and nurses should be given proper training to properly provide treatment to the infected patients.
Fakhrul urge all concerned to ensure proper treatment of the virus-infected people and take prompt precautionary and preventative measures so that the disease cannot spread badly in the country. “People won’t forgive if the government fails to do so. Because people do not want to be victims of mass deaths once again like that of 1974.”
He urged BNP leaders and activists to carry out a mass campaign to make people aware of the disease. “I urge our party leaders and activists at all levels to stand by people and poor patients with the necessary treatment, advice and materials to tackle the situation.”
BNP standing committee members Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Selima Rahman, Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku and senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi were, among others, present.