One year of COVID pandemic: Bangladesh overcoming crisis...

Dhaka, Friday   23 April 2021

One year of COVID pandemic: Bangladesh overcoming crisis

 Md. Mamunur Rashid

 Published: 10:57 AM, 8 March 2021   Updated: 12:14 PM, 8 March 2021

Photo: Daily Bangladesh

Photo: Daily Bangladesh

On this day in 2020, the first coronavirus (Covid-19) patient was identified in Bangladesh. The deadly disease gradually spread across the country. The number of patients continues to increase. Thousands of people lost their lives to COVID, many of them were important people of the country – That's how a year went by fighting with the Covid-19.

However, with the successful efforts of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government, the cursed touch of this catastrophic global pandemic has now come under control.

On March 8 last year, the first three Covid-19 patients were identified in the country. Two of whom were returning from abroad and the other came in contact. Besides making this announcement, IEDCR (Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research) director Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora advised everyone to be especially careful and avoid public gatherings 

The government decided to shut down all educational institutions across the country in the first phase from March 16 to March 31 of that year due to the situation arising out of the coronavirus. After that, the closure has been extended in several phases. The last closure was extended till March 29 this year. However, the government has decided to start classes at the university from May 24. Earlier, the residential halls of the university will be opened from May 16.

The first death in Bangladesh by Covid-19 on March 18. From then on, people would not leave the house without necessity. Later, in the first phase, the government declared a general holiday in government and private offices from March 26 to April 4. It was decided to shut down all the garment factories. At the same time, the lockdown started that day. The naval route, railways and aviation routes were periodically shut down.

However, in order to keep the economy afloat, the owners of more than 600 ready-made garment factories started activities on April 26 on a limited scale in the first phase. All garments are later opened in phases. Later, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, the government decided to open all kinds of shopping malls and markets on a limited scale from May 10.

From May 31, office, bus-launch-train-air traffic, capital market and bank transactions became normal. These are opened in compliance with the hygiene rules to keep the economy afloat. However, after a two-month lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus, the government took a new plan to prevent re-infection.

Under the plan, the whole country is divided into red, green and yellow zones. After being divided into these zones, the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country started decreasing. These restrictions are also lifted when the rate of infection gradually decreases. Experts believe that under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the virus rate in the country has decreased.

In the last year, 550,330 people have been infected with the coronavirus in the country while 8,462 people died. Of these – 64 died in a single day on June 30 last year, which was the highest in a single day.  

Dr. Anisuzzaman, a national professor, writer, novelist and intellectual, died of Covid-19. Even renowned people like Saadat Husain, former Cabinet Secretary and chairman of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission, lost his life to the virus.

Language activist, Freedom Fighter, eminent journalist and cultural figure Kamal Lohani died of coronavirus. The renowned educationist and former Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the Dhaka University (DU) Dr. Emajuddin Ahamed also died in Covid-19.

Besides, the virus has taken away many linguists like Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah’s son, painter, writer and researcher Murtaja Baseer, former director-general of Bangla Academy, poet and essayist Manzoor-e-Mawla and many more. They were the beacons of our knowledge, culture, education, intellectual practice.

Meanwhile, two weeks after the first Covid-19 patient was identified in the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced an incentive package of Tk 5,000 crore in the first phase. A week later, on April 5, another package of Tk 67,500 crore was announced in various sectors. 21 packages are made in phases. The total package size was Tk 121,353 crore. 

According to the Ministry of Finance, it is more than 4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) – which was the highest GDP among the South Asian countries.

Bangladesh is moving forward with the impact of this catastrophic global pandemic. The rural economy becomes strong. Expatriate income has increased rapidly. Export income is also increasing. The mega project has gained momentum.

The stock market in crisis has found its usual pace. The bank has enough money for massive investment. Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and various domestic and foreign international organizations have said that Bangladesh’s economy is advancing rapidly amid the pandemic outbreaks.

The country has also received a record amount of remittances amid the Covid-19 outbreak. With the government’s incentives and the closure of hundi, more remittances have come than ever before.

According to the central bank, in the first 10 days of December, expatriates sent $81.40 crore to the country. In all - from January 1 to December 10 - the country received $20.50 billion, which is about 12 percent more than the full period of 2019. Never before has so much remittance come to Bangladesh in one year. In 2019, $18.33 billion of remittances came to the country.

The work of various mega projects did not halt even during the epidemic. Concerned people have continued to work day and night following the health guidelines. On December 10, 2020, the dream reached with the installation of the 41st, last span of the Padma Bridge where the main part of the country’s largest infrastructure is visible.

Besides, work on big projects like Metro Rail and Karnaphuli Tunnel is also underway. Similarly, work on Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant, the most expensive project in the country, is also underway.

Many countries in the developed world have not yet received the Covid-19 vaccine. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has allocated Tk 1,300 crore for the vaccine roll-out, considering the welfare of the people of the country.

Meanwhile, on January 21, the Indian government’s 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine gifts arrived in the country – which was the first shipment of the vaccine. 

Later, 5 million doses came on January 25 in the first consignment out of 30 million doses of vaccine bought by the Bangladesh government from the Serum Institute of India. The second shipment contained 2 million doses arrived on February 22. 

Bangladesh has already started the vaccine roll-out to tackle the outbreak of Covid-19 infections.