#Meeting today to decide next course of action
#Long-haul public transport selling tickets for tomorrow, Tuesday#People taking preparations to leave capital
#Virus may spread further if people rush to villages, say health experts
Weeklong restrictions imposed by the government to contain the coronavirus transmission in the country end this midnight.
The government is also planning to enforce a complete lockdown from April 14 as the seven-day curbs failed to bring any expected results.
Under such a situation, many people are confused about what will happen in the two days -- April 12 and 13 -- will public transport operate across the country during the period? Will there be restrictions or not?
However, the government has not yet taken any decision in this regard.Though no decision has yet been taken, long-haul public transport started selling tickets for April 12 and 13 online. Many passengers, who are willing to leave the capital, have already bought tickets from different online ticketing sites.
Many residents are now taking preparations to leave the capital before the severe lockdown starts.
Mahabub Zaman, who wants to go to Kushtia, said, “I’ve bought two Dhaka-Kushita tickets from SB Super Deluxe Paribahan for April 12. They’re selling tickets through their online portal.”
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association, told the Daily Sun that no decision has yet been taken about public transport services on April 12 and 13. “Everything will be done as per the government’s decision.”
When his attention was drawn to selling tickets by some bus operators, he said, “How can they sell tickets as there’s no permission to run buses?”
Public health experts think if everything remains normal for these two days, thousands of people will rush to their village homes before the complete lockdown is enforced and this may spread the virus further to rural areas.
They underscored the need for taking a decision soon in this regard.
According to the Cabinet Division and the Ministry of Public Administration, a meeting is scheduled to be held today to decide about the matter.
A senior official of the Cabinet Division on Saturday said the virtual meeting will be held at 3:00pm and further decision will be taken from there.
Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Public Administration said the current restrictions may continue until Tuesday.
The government enforced the weeklong lockdown on April 5, slapping restrictions on the movement of people and public transport and closing all shops and markets.
It, however, allowed operations of public transport in Dhaka and other city corporation areas from Wednesday while shops and markets reopened on a limited scale on Friday for five days.
Now almost everything is running except long-distance public transport.
Experts said the coronavirus situation cannot be controlled by such a relaxed lockdown.
The National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 has said coronavirus infections cannot be controlled without at least two weeks of strict lockdown.
For this, the committee has recommended a two-week complete lockdown in city corporation and municipality areas.
Record 77 people died of Covid-19 in the country in the last 24 hours till Saturday morning. During the period, 5,343 more people were infected with the virus.
A source at the Health Ministry said the health system could collapse if the current situation continues for a few more weeks as Covid-19 patients are now struggling to get admitted to hospitals. Then it may not be possible to give the minimum treatment to many people infected with the virus.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Friday said the coronavirus situation has taken a terrible turn while people’s negligence and indifference are also growing. “Under such circumstances, the government is mulling over imposing a complete lockdown for another week from April 14 in public interest,” he said.
State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain also talked about enforcing a complete lockdown to control the coronavirus situation.
He said all government and private offices, except emergency services, will remain closed during the weeklong strict lockdown from April 14. “No one will be allowed to move from one place to another. Although there’s laxity in some cases now, it won’t be allowed during the next spell,” he said.