Maintaining social distance is going to be a major challenge during Eid-ul-Azha for the nation as both the rush of homebound people at different exit points of the capital and the presence of enthusiasts in the cattle markets have increased in the last few days.
This correspondent visited different bus stations and launch wharfs only to find an increasing presence of people showing no regards to social distancing and other health guidelines.
Public health experts have already voiced their concerns over such reckless gatherings (especially in the cattle markets) on different occasions and warned everyone as well that this will only worsen the ongoing pandemic situation and help spread the virus.
They also feared that there is a leeway of spreading the infection and its level from Eid Jamaat, shopping, slaughtering of animals and cutting of meat and whole distribution.
Earlier, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 recommended preventing all homebound people from traveling during Eid-ul-Azha festival to minimize transmission of coronavirus.
The committee had also suggested not allowing to set up cattle markets in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Chittagong. However, before endorsement of the recommendations, authorities of both the city corporations of Dhaka had finalized the lease of several cattle markets on condition of maintaining all health safety rules.
“The recommendations of the technical committee were ignored many times. But the government has to seriously consider the recommendations of the technical committee to bring the situation in the country under control,” Medicine specialist Aminul Islam told Bangladesh Post.
Professor Dr. Nazrul Islam, a virologist and the former Vice Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said, “Homebound people and the cattle markets will pose great risks to public health.”
He went on to say, “If people do not wear proper masks and other personal protective gears during the Eid journey and do not wash their hands and maintain physical distance in the cattle markets, then the infection will spread at an alarming rate.”
Similarly, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) hoped that the infection would experience a downward trend by the end of this month if the risk factors are taken into account during the upcoming Eid.
When asked how much the National Committee's advice on not setting up cattle markets in the four major cities were being heeded, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, “Respective city corporations approve and settle it. It has already been approved in several places. The matter of approval is not in our hands.”
He added that since the approval had already been given, we have asked the concerned people to follow the health guidelines as much as possible.
However, he had also expressed doubts about the extent to which hygiene rules in the cattle markets could be followed.