We embarked on the year 2020 amid lots of hope and aspirations but the sudden and silent onslaught of an invisible, insidious, and deadly enemy made things worse and left the world helpless. The enemy known as Covid-19 made the year 2020 one of the most cursed years of our living memory caused the greatest human loss since the world wars.
The mighty 2020 has left an indelible mark on each of our lives, impacted us in ways we could not even think of. The invisible enemy did not only wreck our health and sanity, but also left quite a lasting impact on most of our lives.
It needs no emphasising that 2020 brought terrible frustrations, some of them lethal. We have repeatedly reiterated them at great length. Needless to say, the pandemic has harshly affected the global economy and Bangladesh like others had no immunity from the health and economic consequences of the virus. Thousands died and tens of thousands got infected. Since the start of a nationwide shutdown in March, millions of people had lost their jobs. For many it had been a question of survival, with food security growing even more precarious. However, bumper harvests and healthy stockpiles coming have helped us dodge the worst of food security worries triggered by Covid-19.
We hope the new years will give us the opportunity to
start afresh and work towards rebuilding the world after
the pandemic. We will continue to hold on to hope and
persevere for a brighter and better tomorrow
Initially, Covid- 19 hit Bangladesh's economy hard and jeopardised the country's impressive achievements in various sectors. Reportedly, Bangladesh’s national poverty rate rose to 35 per cent in 2020 from 24.3 per cent in 2016 due to the adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Situation of thousands of poor people had worsened. Many could not obtain food aid from state-run schemes.
While many social and non-government organisations were distributing essentials to the needy, people belonging to the middle class became the worst sufferers as they were not in a position to accept donations publicly. Because of their social status they cannot go and beg for alms or food. As a result, they suffer in silence during lockdown. The number of middle class in Bangladesh is about 4 crores. A significant portion of them is the lower middle class. They are dependent on small private jobs, small businesses and daily work. Due to the lockdown of the country their income source was closed.
We did not have enough designated hospitals and labs to conduct COVID-19 tests. People, suspected of being infected with coronavirus found it hard to have their samples tested as they have to stand several hours in the long queues for giving their samples.
Reportedly, only the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) were conducting the tests at the initial stage, later the testing facilities were expanded to various government and private hospitals.
However, despite the pandemic Bangladesh so far has been able to sustain its economic growth. Government’s stimulus package has helped millions of poor and destitute people to survive the pandemic. We have overcome all odds successfully. We have installed the last span of Padma Bridge with our own fund amid the pandemic. Our scientists unveiled the genome sequence of Covid-19.
A new year is upon us. Let us allow a torch of optimism to carry us into 2021. Because whatever challenges the New Year has in its store, this moment in history can still be embraced as a best time to be alive. And while we can only reflect on the things that 2020 taught us, to cherish each moment of life, to not take it for granted, to spend time with loved one, to expect the unexpected, to overcome and keep going despite being faced with extra-ordinary odds, all we can hope from 2021 is to be kinder to humanity in more ways than one.
For 2021, there are many positive things on the horizon. We are embarking on the New Year with hope and aspiration, given all the vaccines' progress and looking forward to rebuilding a healthier post-COVID-19 world. We will continue to hold on to hope and persevere for a brighter and better tomorrow.
Sayeed Hossain Shuvro is Editorial Assistant, Bangladesh Post