Rural people defy orders

Low awareness in the countryside

Amdadul Haque

People living in the rural areas are defying the government’s order to confine themselves at home and maintain social distancing wearing proper protective gears while in the outdoors. It is noticed that in such a lockdown situation mostly idle people keep busy gossiping in tea stalls sitting in close distance with one another exposing everyone to great risks of contaminating the virus if they carry.

Children and small traders are found engaged in their regular activities – like children playing in the field and traders selling products as usual without following personal hygiene. They are not complying with the government orders as most of them either have no knowledge on the transmission of the virus or seem to care least about the infection.

After the announcement of the first coronavirus patient identification in Bangladesh, a general vacation was declared to prevent infection. The government extended the holiday period. Twenty-four days after the first outbreak was detected in Bangladesh, the army, along with the local administration, has taken to the field to maintain social distance and strictly enforce home quarantine from last Thursday.

Meanwhile, shopping in the crowded is going on at marketplace of rural areas ignoring the lockdown. Like the past few days, on Wednesday also the same picture was seen in the village markets of Moulvibazar, though the local administration has advised to avoid crowds.

Every day, the government is giving messages on loud speakers to the general public to comply with the instructions. However, it seems a section of the public wish not to care about the infection and do business as usual. Fultola Bazar in Kolabari Bazar of Juri upazila, was found crowded with traders and customers as usual. The fish shops were crowded as other days. Local resident Sirajul Islam came to the market. Asked about buying fish in the crowded market, he said, “There were more people on Saturday. I had come to the market and had left. I intend to do more shopping to last at least a week when I am locked at home.”

The picture of Kolabari Bazar is the same. None seems to be aware of the risks. A shopkeeper of Kolabari Bazar Shahab Uddin said, "I'm wearing a mask. I wash my hands well after selling products.” Many people are moving out of the villages with auto rickshaw. For example, if shops are closed in different places in Juri upazila, the customers are found moving to Kulaura upazila. Vegetable, Fruit and fish markets are open in the countryside.

Ashraful Islam from Moulvibazar said, "People are moving in the tourist areas of Moulvibazar. Many people are getting married in this vacation." Azizur Rahman, a health worker from Sagornal said, "There is no concern about the virus amid people of the grassroots in our country.”

He said most people in villages believed that coronavirus would not spread as pandemic in Bangladesh as in developed countries. The spokesman of the World Health Organization of Bangladesh Dr Bardhan Jung Rana said one of the steps that must be taken to prevent coronavirus infection is to maintain social distancing.

He advised the public to be aware of the need for this social distance and to take strong steps to bring the country together. Doctors said that the reason for the lockdown is to prevent the transmission of the virus. Fewer people are complying while a majority is not in the rural areas. As a result, there is a possibility of widespread infection. Even if anyone has to go to market, he should wear proper protective gears.