The success of a lockdown to rein in Covid-19 transmission hinges on its implementation.
Proper execution of a lockdown in a neighbourhood – flagged as a coronavirus hotspot – will help stem the spread of the deadly virus while an inappropriate application will backfire, triggering a rise in infections, health experts opine.
For instance, four areas in Moulvibazar were marked as red zones and put under lockdown for 21 days on June 16. Later, the lockdown was lifted on July 4.
The results that came from the virus containment measure showed that the number of new cases came down to zero in the two localities where the lockdown was enforced strictly. The number of Covid-19 patients was 27 and 152 in a lakh in the areas respectively.
However, it was not the same case with the two other areas – one saw a rise in positive cases to 15 from 11 while another saw a slight drop from 88 t0 59 with the lockdown imposed on the neighbourhoods in name only.
"People neither cooperate nor maintain social distancing in those areas during the lockdown," said Civil Surgeon Dr Towhid Ahmed.
Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser to the World Health Organisation's Southeast Asia region, said a lockdown should be implemented strictly as it is not possible to impose it again and again. It should also be for 21 days because when the lockdown stays for long, people become desperate to go out.
"But only a strict lockdown cannot control the spread of coronavirus. A large scale testing in that area is also required. We have to ramp up contact tracing too. The infected people have to be put in isolation and those who come in contact with them need to be kept in institutional quarantine," he added.
"When all these are ensured, we can say there has been a successful lockdown," Prof Muzaherul said.
With sporadic lockdowns in effect in different parts of the country, it is now possible to make all these arrangements available for those small areas.
If it is not possible to do enough PCR tests, rapid antibody and antigen tests can be a solution, he stated.
When asked about testing everyone in a locked-down area, civil surgeons either avoided the question or declined to make any comment.
Chuadanga has also witnessed both success and failure in lockdown measures.
On June 17, two wards – 5 and 7 – in Damurhuda upazila of the district came under lockdown. The lockdown was lifted on July 8 with satisfactory results.
However, the lockdown – enforced in wards no 2, 4, 8 in Darshana on June 23 – has turned ineffectual as the number of patients has continued to rise in those areas.
The lockdown in Darshana still continues, Dr Pitambar Roy, civil surgeon of Chuadanga, said, adding that people here do not care much about abiding by health guidelines.
Uttar Kattali area in Chattogram city was locked down on June 17. The number of infected people declined to 18 from 101 due to a strict lockdown, said civil surgeon Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi.
The lockdown was lifted from the area on July 8, he added.
The lockdown imposed on Brahmanbaria neighbourhoods could not rein in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Ekram Ullah said, "Some 13 areas in the district were put under lockdown for 21 days from June 13 to July 4."
"But the number of patients is still rising in all those areas," he added.
The authorities concerned are strict in ensuring an effective lockdown, but there is a lack of awareness among local residents. They neither maintain social distancing nor comply with health safety protocols.
Magura Civil Surgeon Dr Pradip Kumar Saha said, "We put several small areas under lockdown for 21 days. The moment we find more than five Covid-19 patients in an area, we immediately lock it down and we have been getting good results."
"We are now going to put a few more areas in the town under lockdown where five-seven new patients have tested positive for Covid-19," he added.
A successful lockdown enforced in Rupganj of Narayanganj ended on July 2.
"There were initially 81 patients and 35 more were added to the tally during the lockdown. But the number of patients dropped to 12 on July 2," said Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Imtiaz.
The number of Covid-19 patients has also decreased in Khulna due to a proper enforcement of lockdown.
"On June 25, wards 18 and 24 in Khulna city and Aichgati union in Rupsha upazila were put under lockdown," said Khulna Civil Surgeon Sujat Ahmed.
The coronavirus situation has improved in the last few days with a fall in infections, he added.
He expressed optimism that Bangladesh will be free of coronavirus soon through such efforts.
Our correspondents have contributed to this report