The government is likely to start implementing zone wise lockdown, a plan devised earlier this month to divide areas affected with the Covid-19 around Bangladesh into zones on the basis of the severity of the pandemic, from next week.
However, work is still in progress to finalize the criteria for the zone wise areas - red, yellow, and green - which may complete shortly, said people involved in the process.
The government on June 1 decided to divide areas, hit hard by Covid-19 to be put under lockdown in order to prevent the virus from transmitting further.
“We are working on finalizing the zoning wise lockdown plan which will be implemented across Bangladesh. We are expecting to go for implementation by next week,” State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told Dhaka Tribune on Friday.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is regularly providing her guidance on its implementation. Once finalised, she will decide on when to start,” he added.
The plan, once implemented, will help Bangladesh control the spread of Covid-19 transmission more efficiently, said the state minister.
Bangladesh, with Friday's development, has become one of the top 20 countries with the highest number of positive Covid-19 cases worldwide, according to data aggregation website Worldometer as of Friday 5pm.
According to the government plan, hotspots with the highest number of cases will be marked as red zones while areas with a limited number of cases as yellow zones and green zones will be areas with zero confirmed cases in the last 21 days.
If there are over 40 Covid-19 patients in every one lakh population that will be a red zone.
“We will start implementing the plan with hotspots like the five city corporations – Dhaka north and south, Chittagong, Gazipur and Narayanganj – as the numbers of positive cases is higher in these areas,” said Farhad.
Most areas in Dhaka north and south city corporations along with Chittagong, Naryanganj, and Gazipur city corporations will be in the red zone since the infection rate was higher in these four cities.
“We are currently working on mapping, and other issues like how economic activities will be maintained in the areas, how offices will be opened, and how the public transports will be operated in those zoned areas, etc,” he added.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said they will assist the local administration and police in implementing the lockdown plan.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam said they are having meetings with stakeholders concerned with the implementation of the zone wise lockdown plan.
“All the stakeholders including different ministries, organizations, and law enforcement agencies will have to work together under a single umbrella for its effective implementation. There are issues with offices and shops, transports, mosques, food supply, etc. We will finalize the plan shortly,” he said.
“We are preparing a Standard Operation Procedure so that duties of respective authorities can be finalised and can go for implementation once the zone wise lockdown gets a nod from the cabinet division and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” he added
Tolarbag likely to be used as a model
The zone-wise lockdown plan will consider Tolarbag of Dhaka as a model where transmission of Covid-19 was contained through effective implementation of lockdown by local housing authorities.
The housing authority in Tolarbag, which saw its first case on March 21, imposed restrictions from March 22.
Tolarbag was the first area in Dhaka where strict restrictions on people’s movements were imposed.
Following the two deaths, the local administration clamped restrictions on the area, asking people not to leave their houses. All the families were put on home quarantine.
Members of the Tolarbag Society also asked residents not to come out of their homes unless there were emergencies. The area houses 40 buildings.
On April 4, it was reported that six people were infected in Tolarbag, which rose to 14 on April 9 and stood at altogether 19 people on April 10.
Tolarbag, which was identified as one of the clusters for coronavirus transmission in early April, saw its last positive case on April 10, three weeks after the lockdown was imposed.
The local authorities initially barred all outsiders from entering the area, entry gates were kept closed, and no outsider was allowed to enter without contacting the residents of the respective flats.
The local house owners’ association set specific times for shop openings and all persons suspected of having come into contact with the infected ones was the first thing that they focused on.
Hand sanitization facilities were introduced in all buildings while the City Corporation also sprayed bleaching powder in the area every other day.