Dhaka, May 12 (EFE).- At least five people died in a stampede as thousands of people returned to their native villages from the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka and other cities for Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest Muslim festival, defying Covid-19 restrictions.
The incident occurred in Banglabazar area in central Madaripur district as people crammed into ferries to cross the Padma river, Mohammad Amir Hossain of Shibchar police station in the same district told EFE confirming the deaths.
Despite restrictions on movement between districts due to Covid-19, the authorities were forced to resume regular ferry services on Monday due to pressure from the public seeking to return home for the festivities.
On Apr.3, the government had announced a nationwide lockdown in response to rising number of coronavirus cases and deaths. The restrictions were extended in phases until May 16.
Industries and factories, banks and stock markets, however, were allowed to operate under certain necessary health guidelines.
The authorities have struggled to implement the lockdown measures in several parts of the country, while shops remained open until 9pm, domestic flights continued to operate along most routes and public transport in cities was unaffected.
Experts said the lockdown ended up ineffective due to the lax measures, leaving no serious impact on the pandemic situation in the country.
However, daily Covid-19 deaths registered came down from 112 on Apr.19 to 40 on Wednesday.
“We are not sure how this lockdown helped because it could not be implemented mostly. The death figure came down perhaps due to some improvement in health services,” Nazrul Islam, a virologist from the country’s National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told EFE.
Nazrul warned that the mass exodus from cities ahead of Eid could trigger a third wave of Covid-19 infections towards the end of the month.
“Many asymptomatic Covid-19 patients are leaving Dhaka for their villages now. Dhaka is a hotspot for Covid-19, and I am afraid they will transmit the virus at the village level,” he said.
The Directorate General of Health Service reported 1,140 coronavirus cases and 40 deaths in 24 hours on Wednesday, taking the total to 777,397 infections and 12,045 deaths since the start of the pandemic. EFE