Fazle Rabbi (38) is a resident of the Radhanagar area of Akhauraupazila in Brahmanbaria district. A businessman by profession, he had high fever on June 9. He had a cold and cough as well but did not go to hospital.
If his Covid-19 test turns out to be positive, his residence will be locked down. Also, his family will be socially harassed. So, he skipped the Covid-19 testing.
"Since after the outbreak of coronavirus, I have seen that the administration locks down the house of the patient," he said.
As a result, the patient's family becomes isolated. Even neighbours also misbehave with the family. The administration also locked down some houses in upazila sadar. Consequently, the entire family had to face social humiliation, he added.
He continued, "My fever fluctuates frequently. But I did not test for coronavirus considering the safety of my family. However, I am staying in a separate room at home. I am taking medicine for common fever and cold from the pharmacy. Hot water steam is another therapy that I follow. I am recovering gradually."
Fearing social harassment, many other people, like Fazle Rabbi, are not providing samples despite having symptoms of coronavirus. Instead of going to hospitals, some of them take medication at home collected from the pharmacies. As a result, some of them are dying without treatment.
As they are not testing for Covid-19, their family members are also under risk of contracting the virus. Though some of them recover at home, still there are risks of infection. Since the outbreak, a total of 12 people have died in Brahmanbaria district with corona symptoms.
Based on data from the civil surgeon's office, they are getting coronavirus infected patients every day in the district. Until Saturday (June 20), some 533 people were infected with the coronavirus in the district. Six of them died.
Currently, apart from Brahmanbaria General Hospital, samples for Covid-19 testing are also collected at nine upazila health complexes in the district.
The district health department has recommended testing Covid-19 in case of fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. Despite symptoms, many of them do not test fearing social harassment.
The reluctance to test for Covid-19 means there are increased chances to transfer the disease to other people.
Furthermore, there are some people - without symptoms ─ who test for Covid-19 only to make sure that they are not carrying the virus.
This reporter talked with several people who had the symptoms of coronavirus but are not providing samples for testing.
On condition of anonymity, they said they were not testing Covid-19 for fear of the social repercussions.
A youth of Laur Fatehpur village in Nabinagar upazila has been suffering from shortness of breath for the last 10/12 days. He also suffers from muscle pain but he did not have the test done for Covid-19.
In line with the medication, he is inhaling steam and drinking tea with lemon or ginger and other spices, he said.
He was also taking treatment from home quarantine without informing anyone because of the safety and security of his family.
He claimed that his health condition was improving.
Another youth from Madhyaparamahalla in Brahmanbaria said he did not even give a sample for Covid-19 testing. But rumours spread that he was a was 'positive.'
After the rumours, the local boys of his area went to his house and harassed him. They also imposed restrictions on the movement of his family members. And it created a frightening situation.
Abu Sayeed, additional superintendent of police (Headquarters), said, "There is no alternative to lockdown to prevent coronavirus infection. However, we are trying to raise social awareness so that the people around the patients' residences behave nicely and stand by them."
We are working so that the neighbours cooperate with the patients and help them return to normal life, he added.
"The people who are not testing for Covid-19 are also risking the health of their family. Our doctors and health workers are performing their duties and also raising awareness," said Dr Mohammad Ekram, civil surgeon of the district.
Everyone must be aware of this disaster first, he said, adding that the people in the neighbourhood should behave nicely with the patient so that they can return to a healthy life.