The city corporation authorities in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Chattogram might reconsider their decision over setting up sacrificial cattle markets, taking into account the opposition from the national technical advisory committee on Covid-19.
The committee, on Friday in a statement after its 14th meeting, recommended not allowing cattle markets in the cities during Eid-u-Adha in a bid to contain further infections.
Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy said, "We have not got any instruction from the local government in this connection yet. If we get a directive as per the committee's recommendation, we will take measures accordingly."
The NCC is likely to set up 11 makeshift cattle markets in the city.
In the meantime, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) has already reduced the number of cattle markets in its region.
Mayor Atiqul Islam said, "We have decided not to set up cattle markets in the heart of the city. Only a few will be operated around the city."
The DNCC has launched a digital cattle market on Saturday.
The mayor urged the city residents to buy cattle through the online platform instead of going to the markets.
The national committee on Covid-19 also advised buying sacrificial animals online and recommended anyone over the age of fifty to refrain from visiting cattle markets.
"The DNCC has confirmed only three cattle markets till now, and the number will not go beyond seven," said Md Muzammel Hoque, chief estate officer for Dhaka North.
However, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) had already issued tenders for setting up 14 cattle markets in its region and created a health-safety guideline for sellers and buyers. But they are reevaluating their decision.
"The DSCC till now has permitted five markets, and the rest will be finalised on July 20," Md Abu Naser, the DSCC's public relations officer, told The Business Standard.
When asked about the national committee's recommendation, he said, "Dhaka South is yet to get any official directive in this regard. If we get an instruction, we will take initiatives accordingly."
The Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) has not finalised yet how many cattle markets they will set up in the city.
"Around 10-12 cattle markets might be set up and we also have three permanent markets," said GCC Chief Executive Officer Md Aminul Islam, adding, "We have to change places for a few cattle markets as no market will be set inside the city this year."
Meanwhile, Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) is setting up six makeshift cattle markets in the city's different points. Besides, it has two permanent cattle markets.
"Last year, we had set up seven cattle markets, but this year we have decided to set up six," said CCC Chief Executive Officer Md Shamsuddoha.
Meanwhile, experts are concerned that the cattle markets will become overcrowded, which in turn will increase the risk of more Covid-19 infections.
Prof Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of Communicable Disease Control at the health directorate, said, "Physical distancing is impossible in cattle markets.
"Furthermore, the weather is quite warm, so people at those markets will not be able to keep their gloves and masks on for long. Even if cattle markets are closed, sales of cattle must continue because it is big business. Around 1.2 crore animals are sacrificed during Eid-ul-Adha celebrations every year."
Dr Ahmed continued, "So, the government can launch a central "Qurbani" system. After receiving payment, the government can handle the subsequent process – buying cattle directly from farmers, slaughtering them, processing meat, delivering those to people and even distributing among the poor.
"Such an initiative will allow people to carry out their religious sacrifice and also reduce the risk of spreading the deadly virus."
Dr Ahmed warned that if the government fails to control the spread of Covid-19 this time, the virus will repeat its onslaught the same way as it did during Eid-ul-Fitr, and this time the impact will be even more severe.