The government is about to enforce zone-based strict lockdowns by labelling areas with colour codes – red, yellow and green – based on the number of coronavirus cases reported from the areas.
Local representatives said that two areas of Dhaka, including East Rajabazar and Old Dhaka's Wari, would go under lockdown on a pilot basis from early Tuesday.
This time, strict restrictions will be enforced on all kinds of movement in the locked down areas, said sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
They said people's movement in the locked down areas will be strictly banned, and there will be a home delivery facility for daily essentials, including kitchen market goods.
Besides, offices and businesses in red zones will remain shut. There will be adequate facilities for Covid-19 testing so that people will not need to go elsewhere for testing.
Some of these restrictions have already been enforced in Narayanganj and Cox's Bazar. Three areas in Narayanganj were brought under lockdown, our local correspondent reported from the city.
On Sunday, the Narayanganj district administration locked down the three areas for 14 days. The areas are Amlapara and Jamtola of Narayanganj city, and Rupayan Town under Fatullah Police Station of Narayanganj Sadar upazila.
Movements have been restricted by putting up bamboo poles and displaying lockdown signs at the entrances to the areas. In addition, no vehicles are being allowed to enter the zone.
Police checkpoints have been set up at each entrance to the locked down areas. Shahidul Islam, assistant sub-inspector on duty at Zakir Super Market point in Amlapara, said those going out of the locked down areas were barred but they were still leaving in defiance of police restrictions and coming up with various emergency excuses while doing so.
Another Assistant Sub-Inspector Abdur Rashid, who was on duty on Shwapner Bhor main road of Amlapara, said, "There are seven to eight clinics in Amlapara and President areas. Many are entering these areas saying they want to see doctors."
There were similar scenes in Jamtola and Rupayan Town. Police were on duty at the entrances, but people were defying the lockdown by giving excuses on what they called urgent matters.
Afzal Hossain, a resident of Rupayan Town, said, "The district administration announced that daily necessities will be delivered to people's houses by van. But the van was not seen anywhere. So, I had to go out and do shopping."
A team of army personnel led by the magistrate of the district administration was seen in Amlapara trying to make people aware of the situation through using megaphone. They were asking everyone not to leave their homes without any reason.
Narayanganj Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Jasim Uddin said, "To make people aware, we will explain to them what the risky areas are for one or two days. The health ministry was supposed to issue guidelines on what can and cannot be done in the locked down areas. That is why initially we are trying to make people aware of conditions without going for any action."
Experts too have expressed the view that the earlier the zones are labelled and the risky areas are brought under strict lockdown, the better.
Professor Muzaherul Huq, former adviser to the World Health Organisation's Southeast Asia region, told The Business Standard that the government should make the decision as early as possible.
"The initiative has to be implemented in a planned way where doctors' engagement is a must, and there should be a timeframe. There also has to be an exit plan which must be steady and smooth," he said.
He also said that the authorities have to arrange wide testing facilities in the locked down areas and people have to be under strict quarantine.
However, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), which is to formulate the guidelines on the locked down areas, is yet to explain the modalities of the restrictions.
IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora told The Business Standard that the institute is working on the matter but declined to give further details.
"We are working on the zoning and guidelines on the zones. But we cannot share anything about the matter at present," she said.
Integrated workforce in red zones
Special initiatives will be taken in the red and yellow zones so that no one can enter those areas from outside. Besides, law enforcement officials, local administration and community leaders, including religious representatives, will be engaged in enforcing the restrictions.
On Saturday, a virtual inter-ministerial meeting to finalise the draft of Standard Operating Procedures for city corporations and districts was held.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister Md Tajul Islam told The Business Standard that the whole country will be divided into three zones.
"There will be strict enforcement in the red zones. Local councillors, activists, and religious leaders will be involved in the process," he said.
Mobile court, physician pool in red, yellow zones
Law enforcement agencies will play a strict role in ensuring home quarantine of people affected by coronavirus in the red and yellow zones.
Mobile courts will be set up in those zones to take immediate disciplinary action against persons or organisations violating the measures.
Coronavirus patients in the locked down areas will be kept in government-designated isolation centres.
The health department will set up a "physician pool" for each red and yellow zone so that patients can also receive medical advice over telephone.
Physicians in the pool will maintain contact with patients and give necessary medical advice. They will also try to include psychologists in the pool.
If any person in the locked down area needs to get out for advanced treatment, he can do so with the permission of the police officials in charge. If a patient needs to be admitted to hospital, his family will call 18263 or the doctor in the pool will help him decide which hospital he can be admitted to.
If someone dies in the locked down areas, he will be buried by Al Markazul Islam, Anjuman Mufidul Islam or any other organisation engaged in such work.
East Rajabazar to be under lockdown from early Tuesday
The capital's East Rajabazar will be brought under lockdown from 12 midnight on Tuesday following its labelling as a red zone due to the high number of infections in the area.
The area, under the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), has 13-15 patients, local ward Councillor Faridur Rahman Khan told The Business Standard on Monday afternoon.
"As per directives of the prime minister and direct coordination with DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam, we have taken all preparations in the last four days," he said.
He said that the area will be locked down as a pilot programme. "For that, we have taken these preparations: Free food supply for insolvent people, food and goods facilities for solvent people through mobile shops, special isolation for infected patients, Covid-19 sample testing booth and standby ambulances with 24/7 medical supply."
Besides, a committee has been formed comprising local people, the police and officials of the health department and city corporation. It will be led by Faridur.