Flood-Hit Areas: Thousands at risk of virus transmission | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:27 AM, July 04, 2020

Flood-Hit Areas: Thousands at risk of virus transmission

Exposed to highly contagious coronavirus, some people of the flood-hit areas in Bangladesh are now living in congested shelters and some on dykes.

They have very limited scope to maintain social distance as large numbers of people have to stay in a small places.

Furthermore, it is very difficult for them to follow health guidelines like washing hands with soaps, wearing masks and others. In fact, they are struggling for food as well.

Government officials in the regions said they were trying to make the people aware about maintaining social distance and following health guidelines.

Our correspondents from different districts reported on the issue.

In Gaibandha, around 5,256 flood-hit people have taken shelter in 88 flood centres.

Mohtab Uddin, chairman of Uria Uninion Parishad in Fulchari upazila of the district, said around 700 people took shelter in one small flood centre in Kabilpur area.

"How can they maintain social distancing?" he asked.

Contacted, the district's civil surgeon ABM Abu Hanif said, "We send health workers in flood centres on a regular basis to make them [those in shelter] aware of social distance."

In Bogura, around 1,200 people have taken shelters in three flood centres of two upazilas.

Our correspondent visited those shelters and found the flood centres to be over populated.

Asar Ali Shekh, who have taken shelter at Mohila Badh (dam) on the Jamuna river in Sariakandi upazila, said, "We heard about Covid-19. But our homes washed away around seven days ago.

"That is why, we have taken shelter here. I think coronavirus have not reached here. So, it is not important for us to maintain social distance."

Around 70-year-old man Azhar Ali, a resident of Sungar char under sariakandi upazila, said, "I have never heard about social distancing. We are suffering for food crisis. We need food, not social distancing."

Contacted, Foyej Ahmed, deputy commissioner of Bogura, said UNOs were visiting these affected areas and telling people to maintain social distance.

"But I think all the flood centres could not be visited within very short time," he added.

In Lalmonirhat, flood-hit people do not maintain social distance or follow health guidelines as they are desperately looking for food and relief.

"We have heard about social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But we cannot maintain it as are hungry. We need food. Whenever, we see anyone distributing relief, we altogether swoop on relief," said Fazal Miah, a flood-hit man of Khuniyagachh village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.

Contacted, Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila Parishad Chairman Kamruzzaman Sujon said, "We have asked the people to maintain social distancing. But the people don't follow it."

In Sirajganj, over 500 flood-hit people have taken shelter at the flood protection embankment in Shuvogacha village in Kazipur upazila.

Jahanara Begum, a flood-hit woman of Shuvogacha village, said they could not even arrange pure water.

"We are struggling to survive. Now, we have scope to think about social distancing," she added.

Contacted, the district's Relief and Rehabilitation Officer (DRRO) Abdur Rahim said, "The people do not follow the health rules. We are trying to make the flood victims aware about health rules. But they are careless."

In Kurigram, similar situation is prevailing as many flood-hit people are living in a small places with very limited scope for social distancing.

"We are living here with many other people. It is very crowded place. We have no scope to maintain social distance here," said Azizar Rahman, a flood victim of Jattrapur Char in Kurigram Sadar upazila.

Another victim Khabir Uddin said around 250 families stayed on 300-metre long dyke for around a week. He along with his family returned home on Friday as flood water receded from his home.

"But we are in risk of being infected with coronavirus," he added.

Meanwhile in Tangail, some fresh areas have been inundated and river erosion have started as water on the Jamuna river raised.

Our Bogura, Lalmonirhat, Pabna and Tangail correspondents contributed to this report.

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