Thousands of migrant workers flee Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, to escape an imminent lockdown and a rise in Covid-19 cases linked to the Delta variant that threatens to overwhelm health systems.
Authorities imposed brakes, including a ban on public transportation from Monday, before a “complete” national lockout for seven days from Thursday that bans all but essential activity. Security forces will be deployed to enforce the rules.
A wave of infections fueled by the Delta variant has erupted in South Asia since then. erupted in India this year. The latest wave has infiltrated Bangladesh across the vast land border of the neighbors.
Bangladesh reported more than 5,000 cases a day and on Sunday recorded its highest official Covid-19 death toll of 119. The positive rate of national tests is 22 per cent, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
But experts question the official figures, who say they have failed to capture the full extent of the money. Public health experts warn that neglected health systems in all areas of the country – including border districts and poor rural areas – have already been overestimated.
“Not all district hospitals have ICUs,” said Mushtaque Chowdhury, convener of the Bangladesh Health Watch civil society group and professor of public health at Columbia University, forcing sick patients to travel long distances to the treatment. “There’s an overflow of people seeking admission…. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure.”
While Bangladesh had introduced other blocks, Chowdhury said they had been applied ineffectively.
“There is no choice.” [this time]. We have to implement this very closely and strive to contain the disease, which is getting worse and worse. ”
India had one catastrophic wave of Covid-19 infections in April and May linked to the Delta variant, triggering the country’s worst crisis in decades as it flooded health systems in rural and urban areas. While cases are recovering fast, India still records about 50,000 new infections per day.
Nepal was too immersed in crisis from a source in cases where migrants were returning from India.
Last week, the Bangladesh National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 warned that health systems were at serious risk without strong measures to stop the transmission of infections.
Complicating things are Bangladesh’s slow vaccination trend, with only about 3 per cent of the population fully immunized. The country was initially dependent on Oxford / AstraZeneca jabs manufactured in India, and was forced to find alternatives after its neighbor stopped exporting blows.
Bangladesh is now acquiring jabs from China and Russia, as well as through the World Health Organization’s Covax program.
But the prospect of hard lock restrictions in a country where millions live in poverty has raised alarm over the potentially terrible economic and humanitarian consequences.
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Over the weekend, migrant workers flocked to boat terminals in Dhaka – one of the world’s largest urban areas with more than 20 million people – to return to their rural homes and avoid being stranded in the city without jobs. Chowdhury said this exodus could turn into a “super spreader” event if workers carried the virus.
“I’m going home.” What will we do during this period? It’s better to starve to death with my family in the country, ”Mohammad Masum, a migrant worker waiting for a boat, told Agence France-Presse.