Cyclone in the time of pandemic

Measures needed to prevent coronavirus spread at shelters

Already grappling with effects of a global pandemic, Bangladesh is now confronting another major cause for concern, Cyclone Amphan, a storm of historic scale.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is raging across the country and almost the entire administration is busy dealing with the crisis, cyclone Amphan has become another matter of grave concern.

It is not always possible to predict a disaster but if we take adequate preparation we can certainly minimise the loss and damage caused by a disaster. Bangladesh has advanced quite a lot in disaster preparedness and is considered a global example of disaster preparedness, but this time the country has to fight two calamities simultaneously. 

We are told that the government has taken all out preparation to face cyclone Amphan. Already 12,000 shelters have been prepared to house nearly five million people in the expected path of the cyclone. 

All kinds of preparation have to be 

made to deal with the post-cyclone 

impact  immediately

We welcome the government's endeavours to instruct the local administration to increase the number of temporary shelters. As people are being evacuated and taken to cyclone shelters, there is be a huge risk of COVID-19 spreading in close quarters.

As Bangladesh cyclone shelters always get overcrowded during natural disasters, it would be a tough task for the government to keep people at the shelters maintaining physical distancing and hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the virus. 

Local administration therefore must take immediate steps to make people aware of the need for hygiene practices and social distancing, and ensure that they are adhered to every step of the way. 

The local administration, local government representatives and voluntary organisations should provide masks and hand washing facilities to the evacuated people as they have been essential elements, like food and water, for their survival now. 

It is apprehended that some 1.4 million people will be displaced in Bangladesh due to the cyclone and 600,000 homes will be destroyed. Hence, all kinds of preparation have to be made to deal with the post-cyclone impact immediately.