Md. Syedul Islam - Network Specialist (IP), Connected Bangladesh Project, Bangladesh Computer Council
My lovely Bangladesh has a lot of significant assets such as pleasant natural beauty, longest sea beach, largest mangrove forest etc. But Bangladesh is an over populated country with a landmass of 147,570 square kilometers.
Recently Bangladesh upgraded its status to a developing country globally. Government of Bangladesh has taken a lot of good initiatives to address SDGs, remarkably in the sector of infrastructure development, communication, ICT, Capacity Development and employment. But still a lot of people are living under the poverty line. However, we are growing up and we will win (Amra Korbo Joy).
We overheard the news about the Coronavirus outbreak in China in mid-January this year. Subsequently came the news of Coronavirus spreading out around the country. Our government. took a lot of initiatives to build up awareness about the issue. But most of the people didn’t take the issue seriously. The reason behind that maybe that we care less about anything invisible.
THE FIRST CASE
But was it a bit late?
Yes, really it was a bit late to identify the first case. After WHO declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic, our government. shut down the airport. In the interim period a lot of Bangladeshi citizens came back from different countries like China, Italy, Middle-East etc.
The government tried to quarantine them for 14 days before they reached their home and met others. But, this did not control them from reaching out to their home and relatives. Also they didn’t follow the home quarantine after reaching their home as they committed to doing before leaving the airport. However, the government finally locked the country and announced general leave for all the citizens from the end of March and directed everyone to strictly stay at home.
Interesting thing is that people took this general leave as a special vacation to enjoy. Most of the people were leaving their workstation to get to their hometown. The image clearly shows how they travelled to their hometown during COVID-19 pandemic.
Measures Taken! Successful?
When the news came that people should wear masks and wash hand as protective measure; masks, hand sanitizers, hand wash etc. became as golden as a deer. I think this was very common for every country, mostly in South-Asian region. People thought that wearing a mask and washing hand is enough for protection. Unfortunately, they were moving around but not staying at home.
The role of ICT in COVID-19 pandemic
Our Hon’ble Prime Minister is relentlessly taking news from all over the country through video conferencing and giving her important directions to dealing with Coronavirus.
Under the auspices of the ICT Division, a website (www.corona.gov.bd) and mobile apps (CoronaBD) has been launched to provide ICT-based services to the public to combat with coronavirus. The following services are being provided through the internet but not limited to:
- All kinds of government instructions and notifications are being issued to avoid misinformation. Daily updates are publishing.
- Telemedicine including any service related to healthcare.
- Emergency Online service like ordering food, medicine, ambulance etc.
- Preliminary probability test for Coronavirus infection.
- People are donating to the crowdfund through internet.
In the education sector, classes are being conducted through internet from home. people are conducting their official activity from home. It certainly teaches us that office can be done by sitting at home also the beauty of technology. Most of our meeting conducted through video conferencing. During the time internet usage 25-30% increased that usual.
Basically, Bangladesh was late in recognising this situation as epidemic. As a result, we were also late in testing the people. There was a test kit shortage globally. However, we were able to start testing rapidly from the beginning of April, 2020 from all over the country.
Nowadays, more than five thousand tests are conducted everyday but unfortunately more than 10% of those are identified as positive cases. The number of positive cases are increasing very fast.
You know, who are the global “heros”? Yes, I am talking about doctors and nurses who are willingly going to work at the risk of life. There are more than 30 hospitals serving positive patients.
Fact is, they don’t have adequate medical accessories like masks, gloves, PPE etc. for their safety. As a result, a number of them are being infected every day. In COVID-19 pandemic war, all the other staff of the hospital are also serving 24/7.
Role of Law Enforcement Agencies
We have seen, when our government, encouraged people to stay at home but people didn’t care. But at that time, law enforcement agencies specially Bangladesh Army, Police and BGB were providing their best effort to support local civilians in different aspects like force people to stay at home, serving relief to the underprivileged people etc.
We all are well aware about the challenges; those are almost the same for all over the world. We may point out some common ones like preparing hospitals for such a large number of patients, arranging protective medical accessories, test kits and support local civilians in terms of food and finance.
We are in the same boat.
But, as I think, keeping people at home is such a challenging job for us. The poor people and the people of lower middle class, if they can’t earn then they can’t survive. They tend to step out to earn something and get food.
Another big challenge was to deliver food to the helpless or under privileged people at home. We are very much grateful to the local civilians who are still supporting the helpless or under privileged people with food.
What is going to happen
- Bangladeshi garment industry will be threatened
- Many people will lose their job
- GDP will go down globally
- Large number of people will suffer to arrange their daily living stuff
We are a very small country and over populated. However, we are trying to do our best to handle this COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. We will do so till the end of this situation. Hopefully, the earth will come back soon at its own pace. Also the smile with joy. ☺