1000’s of migrant staff are fleeing Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka to flee an imminent lockdown and a surge in Covid-19 circumstances linked to the Delta variant that’s threatening to overwhelm well being techniques.
Authorities are imposing curbs, together with a ban on public transport from Monday, forward of a “full” nationwide lockdown for seven days from Thursday that may bar all however important exercise. Safety forces can be deployed to implement the foundations.
A wave of infections fuelled by the Delta variant has wreaked havoc in south Asia because it erupted in India this 12 months. The newest surge is believed to have seeped into Bangladesh by way of the neighbours’ in depth land border.
Bangladesh is reporting greater than 5,000 circumstances a day and on Sunday recorded its highest official Covid-19 dying toll of 119. The nationwide check positivity charge is at 22 per cent, in response to the Dhaka Tribune.
However specialists query the official figures, which they are saying fail to seize the complete extent of the surge. Public well being specialists warn that uncared for well being techniques throughout swaths of the nation — together with border districts and poor rural areas — have already been overwhelmed.
“Not all district hospitals have ICUs,” mentioned Mushtaque Chowdhury, convener of civil society group Bangladesh Well being Watch and a public well being professor at Columbia College, forcing sick sufferers to journey lengthy distances for therapy. “There’s an overflow of individuals searching for admission . . . There’s enormous stress.”
Whereas Bangladesh had launched different lockdowns, Chowdhury mentioned they’d been ineffectually enforced.
“There’s no alternative [this time]. We’ve got to implement this very strictly and implement it if we’re to comprise the illness, which is simply getting worse and worse.”
India confronted a catastrophic wave of Covid-19 infections in April and Might linked to the Delta variant, sparking the nation’s worst disaster in many years because it swamped well being techniques in each rural and concrete areas. Whereas circumstances have quick receded, India continues to be recording about 50,000 new infections a day.
Nepal was additionally plunged into crisis by a surge in circumstances as migrants returned from India.
Bangladesh’s Nationwide Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 final week warned that well being techniques had been at grave danger with out strong measures to halt transmission of infections.
Complicating issues is Bangladesh’s sluggish vaccination drive, with solely about 3 per cent of the inhabitants totally immunised. The nation was initially depending on Indian-made Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs, and was compelled to search out alternate options after its neighbour stopped exporting photographs.
Bangladesh is now procuring jabs from China and Russia, in addition to by way of the World Well being Group’s Covax programme.
However the prospect of powerful lockdown restrictions in a rustic the place thousands and thousands reside in poverty has prompted alarm concerning the probably dire financial and humanitarian penalties.
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Over the weekend migrant labourers thronged ferry terminals in Dhaka — one of many world’s largest city areas with greater than 20m individuals — to return to their rural properties and keep away from being caught within the metropolis with out jobs. Chowdhury mentioned this exodus risked turning right into a “tremendous spreader” occasion if the labourers had been carrying the virus.
“I’m heading residence. What would we do throughout this lockdown? It’s higher to starve with my household within the village,” Mohammad Masum, a migrant employee, instructed Agence France-Presse whereas ready for a ferry.