The coronavirus infection began at the end of 2019 and rapidly spread all over the world. In the process, the virus infected and is still infecting and claiming lives of millions of people. Bangladesh also could not escape the deadly onslaught of coronavirus. Like all other countries of the world, Bangladesh also had to get into uncharted waters in the initial days of the Covid-19 pandemic. This happened because no one knew how to tackle the situation through medical means and protocols. However, frantic efforts were made to find a cure to the disease caused by the deadly virus. After more than a year or so, a number of vaccines were developed to effectively fight the pandemic. In the midst of this pandemic, Bangladesh have taken up different measures besides health or medical measures, especially socioeconomic ones to meet the challenges or negative fallouts or the consequences of the pandemic. Like other countries around the world, Bangladesh also resorted to long holidays, partial lockdowns and complete lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. These harsh and extreme measures had adverse effects particularly on the lives, livelihoods and the economy. The government as stated by the Honourable Prime Minister took a three-prong approach to fight the pandemic and its negative fallouts. These are firstly, saving the lives of the people by making available adequate provisions for medical facilities, equipment and drugs for the treatment of the citizens; secondly, supporting the livelihoods, especially the most vulnerable groups; and rejuvenating the economy as quickly as possible. So far, the government has allocated US$ 15.4 billion under different stimulus packages, and disbursed about US$ 166 million to 4.4 million beneficiaries that included poor, elderly, disabled people and informal sector workers.
With time, Bangladesh has been successful, to a great extent, in controlling the spread of the virus by overcoming the management constraints of the initial days due to lack of medical facilities, expertise to combat the Covid-19 and corrupt practices. By now, the country has received about five crore (49,585,000) doses of vaccines and has taken measures to procure more than 24.5 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines from various sources in the days to come. The economy has fared well compared to the rest of the countries of the world. Bangladesh has been among the few countries that could maintain economic growth rate in the positive territory though for obvious reasons it has slowed down from the Covid free days. But now, signs are quite clear that the growth momentum is on the rise to catch up the pre-Covid days. However, it should be remembered that the pandemic is far from over. We have seen that it comes back in waves one after another. The experts say that only complete vaccination of the eligible population and maintaining the health protocols are the only way out to keep Covid-19 at bay. The achievements mentioned earlier speak about the successes of the government. The Honourable Prime Minister has been successful in providing necessary leadership from the front to combat the unprecedented disastrous pandemic situation. In this respect, she and her government, of course, deserve credit.
The writer is a Professor, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka