Although a strict lockdown was announced by two senior government officials, its outline and financial support to be provided during it was not revealed. No announcement was made on how long the lockdown would continue either. The people are concerned about all this.
I think there are several differences between the first and the second wave in terms of characteristics. In the current situation, reducing health risks and the number of deaths by controlling the spread of the disease should be of utmost importance.
But like the previous time, there are still doubts about whether the lockdown can be enforced or the expected results from the lockdown could be achieved.
If it is now decided to keep some organisations open and some closed, there will be some political pressure. This was observed among shop owners a few days ago.
Such a decision will also raise the question of injustice. Because a large part of the annual income of some traders comes at this time of the year. Therefore, every sector should be kept open in accordance with hygiene rules rather than keeping some closed.
In this situation, measures like reducing work hours and the number of workers as well as introducing rotating schedules have to be taken. Strict monitoring should be increased to ensure that these have been implemented.
At present, the number of field-level workers tasked with monitoring adherence to health rules is low. If necessary, officials of other ministries and divisions can be deployed with magisterial power.
They have to be given responsibilities according to region-based groups. In case of an organisation violating health rules, field-level workers should be given the power to collect fines and close it.
In addition to police, members of Border Guard Bangladesh and the armed forces can be given responsibility for enforcing law. They will monitor whether the common people are maintaining health guidelines. People should also be punished for not wearing masks or violating hygiene rules.
Thus, it is possible to reduce health risks without causing a major damage to the economy through a strict lockdown if we can develop hygiene practices through extensive campaigns and activities.
Considering the overall situation, the government needs to ensure adequate supply of food during the lockdown whether there is a stimulus or not. With the lockdown, Ramadan and Eid looming, prices of daily necessities are rising and there is uncertainty about supply as well.
Food distribution programmes should be conducted all over the country by expanding the scopes of various social security programmes. The government's food stocks are lower than ever. Food imports need to be increased fast to meet the needs of the poor.