Finally, we are witnessing a strict enforcement of total countrywide lockdown as nearly all services remained shut and the roads and highways wore a deserted look across the country on the first day of the week-long strengthened measures to tame the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the onslaught of coronavirus began in Bangladesh in March last year, we have witnessed several rounds of restrictions on public mobility with lukewarm response both from the public and the authorities. But this time around things are different. The government is imposing the lockdown strictly as a last-ditch effort because of the ominus spread of the delta variant of coronavirus that wreaked havoc in India.
As a matter of fact, we should have implemented a hard lockdown much earlier, but different interest groups apparently interfered in the government’s decision-making process to leave some gaping holes which rendered Covid control measures ineffective. However, it is always better late than never. But we must ensure the best possible outcome from this round of lockdown, otherwise the virus will keep lingering and we will be stuck in a vicious cycle of restrictions and reopening which will have far more severe consequences on public health and the economy.Therefore, we welcome the law enforcement agencies’ tough approach on public mobility and seek all-out support from the citizens to make the lockdown effective. But we must also remember that the poor who live hand-to-mouth cannot afford the luxury of lockdown for a long time. How the disadvantaged sections of the people who have little to no stock of food items at their homes will survive during this period? Does the government have any plan for those who are being shut off from eking out a livelihood? If so, how are the relief items being distributed amid the lockdown?
Needless to say that the rickshaw pullers, transport sector workers, day labourers, housemaids, hawkers and the street beggers are in serious trouble because of the lockdown. Their life is at risk because of hunger; then how can we expect them to be afraid of a disease and follow lockdown rules? So, we support the lockdown, but it must be implemented in a scientific and methodical manner, without resorting to frequent policy flip-flops and leaving a section of people starving.