Covid-19 cases are increasing among the employees of Chattogram Port, Chattogram Custom House, the Clearing and Forwarding (C&F) Agents Association, and the Inland Container Depot (ICD) – causing fears about continuing uninterrupted operations at the port in the coming days.
A total of 92 employees of the port, customs station, C&F agencies, and ICD have contracted the novel coronavirus – while 12 have died either from the viral infection or with Covid-19 like symptoms
Among the deceased, four were employees of Chattogram Port, one was of the customs house, one was managing director of the ICD, five were C&F agents, and one was an employee of a C&F agent.
There are a total of 7,000 employees working at the port, around 800 at the customs station and 2,500-3,000 at the C&F agents.
Mohammad Omar Faruq, secretary of the port, told The Business Standard, "61 employees of Chattogram Port's different departments have contracted the novel coronavirus till June 2. Meanwhile, four employees have died of the virus. Despite the fear of becoming infected, all of us are working to keep the port active. Those who have contracted the virus are being sent to home quarantine."
Abdul Halim, who worked at One Stop Service in the port's transport department, died of Covid-19 on May 5. The result of his novel coronavirus test came back positive on May 6. Then, another employee of the transport department, one from the mechanical department and personal assistant of the port's chairman died of the infection.
However, sample collection for novel coronavirus testing has started at the Chattogram Port Employees Parishad Bhaban. Every day, samples of 15 employees are collected there and then sent to Chattogram Medical College Hospital. The employees of the port and their family members are getting the service free of cost.
Meanwhile, 23 revenue officials and assistant revenue officials of Chattogram Custom House tested positive for Covid-19 till June 2, said Nur-A-Hasna Sanjida Anusuya, assistant commissioner of the Audit Investigation and Research unit of the customs house.
Revenue official Jasim Uddin Majumdar died from Covid-19 on June 2 while he was undergoing treatment.
In the meantime, nine C&F agents died. Of them, five, including former general secretary of C&F Agents Association Majharul Islam Chowdhury and C&F agents Komol Krishna Chowdhury and Mohammad Shafiul Karim Babul, were Covid-19 positive, according to the C&F Agents Association.
Altaf Hossain Bacchu, general secretary of the association, said many C&F agents had been infected with the novel coronavirus. However, most of them were hiding the fact, he added.
Jakir Hossain, general secretary of Chattogram C&F Agents Employees Union, said, "A C&F agent employee named Suchoyon Barua Kachi died from the novel coronavirus on Monday [June 1] while undergoing treatment. We have come to know that eight employees have been infected with the virus. The number of the infected staff may be higher. We have no alternative but to go to the port and customs station for our work. That is why the infection is spreading among us."
Haji Mohammad Yunus, managing director of private container depot Esak Brothers, died exhibiting novel coronavirus-like symptoms at a private hospital in Chattogram on May 31.
Ruhul Amin Shikdar, secretary general of Bangladesh Inland Container Depots Association (BICDA), said Mohammad Yunus had been suffering with such symptoms but it was not certain whether he had contracted Covid-19.
The workers of 19 private container depots were working following the government's health guidelines, he said. However, he said the association did not have any information about whether any worker had contracted the virus.
To continue export and import activities, Chattogram Port remained open even during the Covid-19 shutdown. Although, towards the beginning of the shutdown, the activities of the customs station were conducted on a limited scale, a few days later, the customs house started its activities in full swing.
The people concerned think that this is the reason behind the increase in the amount of Covid-19 cases there. They also expressed their doubts about continuing uninterrupted operations of the port in the coming days as the number of the employees affected with the virus is rising.