Bone-chilling cold for the last few days has disrupted normal life in the country. The mercury has been going down every day. Medium to thick fog persists in many regions, and the sky is mostly clouded with no sun visible all day.
A medium to mild cold wave, currently sweeping over the country, has been causing immense sufferings to people, especially the poor, homeless and working classes.
Besides, cold-borne diseases, such as pneumonia, influenza, cough and diarrhoea, have been breaking out in different parts of the country.
Meanwhile, the winter market has been energised with demand for warm clothes registering an increase. Traders have occupied footpaths in almost all cities, including Rajshahi, Bogura, Jashore, Satkhira and Brahmanbaria, peddling their products.
According to a Met office forecast, the weather may remain cold for one or two more days. Night and day temperatures may remain unchanged across the country.
Our correspondents report from different districts:
Mild cold wave sweeps over Kurigram
Life in Kurigram has come to almost a standstill because of a mild cold wave for the last four days. The sun has remained hidden behind clouds.
On Saturday, streets of the northern district were seen largely empty because people mostly avoided going out unless there was an inescapable necessity.
The Kurigram Met office said the lowest temperature was recorded on Saturday at 12 degree Celsius. Moreover, there is a possibility of rain once the cold wave goes in a day or two.
Due to adverse weather, people have been affected with cold-related diseases. More than 50 children have been admitted with diarrhoea to different upazila health complexes, including Kurigram General Hospital. On Saturday, eight patients were admitted with pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Rain likely in Bogura at the end of December
Met officials in Bogura have predicted possible rainfall towards the end of December, which might cause temperatures to slide further.
They advised local farmers to remain alert because thick fog in different northern districts, including Pabna and Bogura, during that time may damage their Boro seedbeds and crops such as potatoes and tomatoes.
The local office of the Department of Agricultural Extension advised farmers to immediately contact field level officials in the event of an outbreak of diseases in their crops.
The degree of cold did not decrease in the district on Saturday even though temperatures rose slightly. The skies of Panchagarh, Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Bogura and Pabna were covered with clouds. Dewdrops fell like drizzles.
Meanwhile, Fatema Begum (70), who got burned while basking by a fire in Thakurgaon, died at Rangpur Medical College Hospital on Saturday. There are eight burn patients admitted to the hospital at present. The health conditions of three of them are critical, according to doctors.
Vehicles in Chuadanga run with headlights on
A dense fog occurred all over Chuadanga on Saturday. As a result, visibility is reduced, leading vehicles on different streets to move slowly with their headlights on.
Saturday's lowest temperature in the district was recorded at 10.4 degree Celsius. The speed of the wind was 6kmh, causing the weather to go colder for outbound people.
Samadul Islam, in-charge of the local Met office, said the district saw a thick fog in the early morning. The extent of cold increased a little, which might rise further if fog became thinner.
Demand for warm clothes goes up in Jashore
For the last three days, the temperature in Jashore has been hovering around 11 degrees Celsius. Since Tuesday night, the temperature has come down rapidly. The local Met office said two more cold waves might occur in the next few days in the northern and western regions of the country.
Meanwhile, residents have been buying warm clothes to protect themselves from the biting cold.
On Friday, around 400 cloth shops in the city's Old Market and Collectorate Market saw a large number of customers coming in. Used warm clothes, such as sweaters, jackets, blazers, etc, were selling for Tk50 to as high as Tk500.
Shahidul Islam, president of the Jashore Zilla Parishad Market Traders' Association, said they expect around Tk3 crore sales this season.
Warm cloth trade on loan money in Brahmanbaria
In Brahmanbaria Sadar, footpaths of different roads have turned into makeshift shops for trading warm clothes. Due to a crunch in the capital, most of the traders have taken out loans with high interest rates from different non-government organisations (NGO) to run their businesses.
Traders, who have no capacity for rented shops, have been selling their products on footpaths in the district's Mother Gora, TA Road, Sadar Hospital Road, Masjid Road and Court Road.
Sales begin from afternoon and continue till midnight every day. Traders said each of them can sell up to Tk5,000 every day on an average. Generally, middle- and low-income people are their customers who have little capacity to buy expensive clothes from city markets.
Sabiha Begum, a working woman of the district, said, "I work in a private company on a low salary. It will be difficult for me to run my family if I go to big markets to buy costly warm clothes. We are solely dependent on footpath-based shops."
A trader named Shohag said he took Tk20,000 in loan from an NGO for his business. "It is impossible for us to rent a shop in the markets. My makeshift shop on the footpath is the only source of income for my family."
He said police oftentimes drive them away from footpaths. He claimed he would not be able to repay his loan if he could not run the business unhindered.
When contacted, Md Rezaul Karim, additional superintendent of police in Brahmanbaria Sadar, said vehicular movements are hampered due to trading on footpaths. "We suggest to them that they operate their business in some other places of the city."
Cold-related diseases break out in Rajshahi
The number of patients affected with cold diseases has increased in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, said Deputy Director Dr Saiful Islam.
"Especially children and aged people have been coming in increasing number to the hospital with cough, pneumonia, influenza and diarrhoea. We have arranged a room heater for each ward to protect patients from extreme cold," he said.
Besides, windows of the children wards have been covered with veils, he added.
The lowest temperature in Rajshahi was recorded at 9.4 degree Celsius on Thursday. However temperature rose a bit to reach 9.8 degree Celsius on Friday.
A local Met official said the mild cold wave will persist for a couple of days more. Afterwards, the temperature will begin rising. However, people felt colder on Saturday due to an overcast sky and cold wind.
Cold wave sweeping over Satkhira for three days
Life in Satkhira has been disrupted to a large extent with the advent of the sudden cold weather. For the last three days, a cold wave has been sweeping over the south-western district, causing low-income group to suffer the most.
Residents of the city as well as of remote areas have been busy buying warm clothes. Footpaths along city roads are now largely occupied by traders and customers.