Passengers queued up in long lines at Kamalapur Railway Station on Friday morning. Since the counters would not sell tickets without masks, they had their face covered. But the crowd seemingly forgot to maintain social distancing – a must to curb Covid-19 spread.
Besides, many of the passengers did not cover their faces properly.
The picture of negligent citizens inside the railway station was more worrying as local trains were leaving the station with passengers packed like sardines.
"I bought the ticket to go home. The railway said 50% of the seats would be vacant, but overwhelming passengers have occupied all the seats. Even there are standing passengers travelling with us," said Sahana Begum, a Tongi-bound passenger from the capital.
The intercity trains were found more cautious in terms of seat occupancy and were not allowing hawkers to get in.
Kamalapur Station Master Md Rafiqul Islam agreed that the virus safety measures remain largely ignored on the local trains.
"It is impossible to ensure the measures unless you suspend the local trains. We are telling people to comply with the virus safety, but they are not listening to us," he said.
Around 200 trains depart the station per day and of them 54 are local. The station master said the overall number of rail passengers has declined in the last couple of days.
In the meantime, launch passengers at Dhaka's Sadarghat terminal said the recent fare hike has prompted their sufferings since the launch owners are overcharging them without keeping the 40% occupancy free.
Visiting the terminal on Friday morning, most of the launches were found packed as usual. The passengers were completely ignorant to social distancing: and there was no thermal scanner or hand sanitizing arrangements.
"They took Tk300 per person up from Tk250, but did not keep 40% of the total occupancy free. Even there were passengers on the launch rooftop," said Rajib Hosen after arriving in the capital from Barishal.
MV Green Line official Abu Bakar said they hiked the fare from Tk700 to Tk1,000. "We are allocating seats together for families, while single passengers are being accommodated with gaps," he claimed.
Arif Hosen, ticket man of a Chandpur-bound launch, said they did not hike the fare and have been carrying passengers as usual.
Both passengers, bus operators annoyed with virus spike
Passengers of the long-haul buses locked into arguments frequently over the hiked fare at inter-district bus counters in Dhaka's Gabtoli, Mohakhali, Sayedabad and Kamalapur.
Most of the passengers were unwilling to pay the extra as they felt a journey with 100% occupancy would not be risky. On the other hand, as people were not travelling unless there is an urgency, bus operators said they were incurring losses.
Sylhet-bound passenger Sathi Akter and her daughter came to the Sayedabad bus counter. The mother-daughter duo said as they would travel together without keeping any seat empty in between, they would not pay any extra.
A bus operator Arif Hosen said they are annoyed with the fare hike as there have been arguments with the passengers round the clock.
"We have to convince them time and again. Besides, we are not getting enough passengers too," he noted.
In the meantime, buses in Dhaka-Cumilla, Dhaka-Laksam, Dhaka-Feni and Dhaka-Noakhali routes were found carrying usual passengers with the hiked fares.
Shopping in advance as situation could deteriorate
Amid the sharp rise in the infection, many Dhaka dwellers turned up at shopping malls with their families.
Nannu Mia came to Bashundhara Shopping Mall Friday with his family. "I came to buy a mobile phone. Besides, I brought the family members and spent the weekend together," he said.
Another shopper Mahfuj Alam came with his two nephews. They had several shopping bags holding in their hands.
Mahfuj said the pandemic situation may get worse in the future. Therefore, he did some shopping beforehand.
Fashion brand Gentle Park Cash Manager Naim Hosen said showrooms at the shopping mall have marked circles to maintain social distancing. But the customers do not maintain those.
As Friday was a holiday, the public transports had less passengers compared to the working days. However, there were crowds in the morning for the medical admission test. The pressure on public transport in the afternoon was quite normal.
Many medical college admission aspirants rushed to the book fair in the afternoon.
Ahsan Ahmed came from Narsingdi to take part in the medical admission test at Tejgaon College centre in the capital. He and his father Alim Ahmed were visiting the fair after the examination as they will return home at night.
Bangla Academy Library Assistant Shubra Barua told TBS the fair witnesses more crowds on Friday and Saturday. However, they were not allowing anyone to enter the fair premises without a mask and monitoring the premises so that visitors do not gather.
Medical college admission test held amid infection spike
Medical college admission test for the 2020-21 academic session was held on Friday amid an alarming increase of Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 1,22,874 students sat for the examination at 55 venues across the country for 4,350 seats in 47 government medical colleges across the country.
Director of the medical education directorate Professor Dr AKM Ahsan Habib said the admission test was held amid a good environment maintaining strict health guidelines.
Meanwhile, a huge crowd was seen outside at each examinations' centre.
Rakib Hasan Chowdhury, a guardian, told The Business Standard that the health ministry failed to implement the health guideline in and around the exam centre.
However, examinees sat maintaining a distance of at least 4 feet from one another at exam halls and on average 30 students were accommodated in a room to avert transmission of the virus during exam hours.
In another development Friday, the authorities said the Mirpur National Zoo and Rangpur Zoo would be closed to visitors from Friday until further notice. Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim urged all to extend cooperation in this regard.