Cyclone Amphan is approaching. And it's approaching fast.
This might be the worst time, in recent years, for a cyclone to hit, considering the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the country. And this may also raise a question: Should people go to the cyclone shelters?
While going to cyclone shelters may increase the risk of more people getting infected with the virus, they still should. Here's why.
Covid-19 may infect a lot of people. But it kills only a few. At the end of the day, this is a disease. Maintaining social distancing and proper hygiene is the best way to prevent it.
As of Tuesday, 25,121 people have tested positive with the virus in Bangladesh. Among which, 370 died and 4,993 recovered.
Winning the battle against Covid-19 is very much possible.
On the other hand, a severe super cyclone like Amphan won't even give that chance. It will destroy everything that comes into its path and continue approaching until it runs out of fuel.
The Bhola Cyclone, categorised as a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm" killed approximately 5lakh people of the country in 1970.
Meanwhile, SIDR, a cyclone of the same category that hit the coastal belt in 2007, killed around 3,500 people in Bangladesh.
Both SIDR and Bhola cyclone was similar in type. But the death tolls are different because of the geography of the area they hit in the coast and the number of people going into safety before the cyclone.
Just after two years of SIDR, another cyclone Aila killed 190 in the country in 2009. It was categorised as a "Severe Cyclonic Storm".
Mahasen, categorised as "Cyclonic Storm", killed 18 in 2013.
SIDR was more powerful than Aila and Mahasen. But the main reason behind lesser death was more people going to the cyclone shelters because of the lessons they have learned during SIDR.
During an interview in late 2018, a SIDR survivor told me that she didn't realise how severe the situation was. She somehow felt like her shanty will be enough to protect her during the cyclone.
But the cyclone just uprooted the foundation of the shanty and she was found by her son around a kilometre away from her house the next morning.
During Aila, she was among the first few people to go to the nearby cyclone shelter.
That being said, there's every possibility that Amphan may end up being as powerful as SIDR. It might well be as bad as SIDR for us if people don't go to the cyclone shelters with the fear of catching Covid-19.
Fighting with a cyclone can never be compared with the fight against a virus. There's an option of recovery in a virus infection. The immunity of the person plays a significant role here as well.
But none of this matters in front of a cyclone. It doesn't matter if the person is a good swimmer or if he or she can hold the breath for a long time. There's no fight against a cyclone.
The government has already doubled the numbers of cyclone shelter centres in coastal regions in order to minimize the risk of virus contamination by ensuring distancing during the cyclone.
Keeping this in mind, everyone in coastal areas should take shelter in a cyclone centre nearby while maintaining the distancing rules as much as possible.
Meanwhile, the government has to ensure enough testing facilities at coastal areas immediately after the cyclone. So that any new cases get reported immediately and proper measures can be taken.