While watching Andrew Mark Cuomo, governor of New York, giving his daily briefing – a few phrases he used caught my attention. One was "truth and facts".
With his ongoing tussle with President Donald Trump, these particular words speak volumes. On the other side of the world where we are struggling to face the onslaught of COVID-19, the above quote is also very meaningful.
Are we aware of the truth? In Bangladesh, we hear the health department's numbers every day. We also hear on the news of many deaths from pneumonia-like complications. These deaths are announced with a monologue "samples have been collected for Coronavirus testing".
Are these results ever added to the COVID-19 deaths? If people are not given the 'truth' they will not be scared of the virus and the apparent lockdown will never be effective.
Facts have to be shared with the people. Action must be taken based on truth and facts. Being an Ostrich shoving your head in a hole is not the way to hide facts. The people will pay a huge price for this act of deception.
The other phrase which Governor Cuomo used today was "We can't act stupid". He was referring to Trump's pressure to open the economy prematurely.
We in Bangladesh are about to see the peak time of COVID-19 pandemic. Conducting more tests is the only way to ascertain the number of infected patients. In recent days, we observed that if you test 2500 people you find 500 come out positive. That's 20 percent.
With a population of 170 million that means 34 million, and a five percent casualty means two million deaths. Can we afford to act irresponsibly in tackling the impending calamity?
Let's face some unfortunate facts that we are facing right now. Medical facilities are non-existent. PPE (personal protective equipment) and other important equipment are not there. There are only 200 ventilators for 170 million people. Who are we kidding?
It's time to get the head out of the hole and move fast. But the question is in which direction?
A new terminology I also learnt today is "herd immunity". I think it means to let the virus peak, and gradually the curve will slide down. Have we calculated the cost of human lives if we take this path?
We know that we have no medical facilities. Doctors, nurses and other personnel are being infected at a dangerous rate. In a few weeks, there will be no medical personnel active on the ground. Other important service personnel in the law and order sector are also threatened by the disease.
If the epidemic peaks, will we have the strength to face the situation? We are already seeing social unrest gaining a momentum.
The window is shutting fast. An action plan carefully drawn has to be executed without any delay. People have to be kept off the streets if required. Food and essentials have to be delivered to the doorsteps of people to keep them calm and indoors.
Another quote of Cuomo today was, "If you are seeking freedom but seeking freedom from responsibility then you have lost your freedom." We, the people of Bangladesh, have paid a high price to gain freedom in 1971.
The question is- do we want to lose that by shirking our responsibility? Are we even prepared to take responsibility for the disposal of dead bodies?