Published:  01:15 AM, 19 March 2020

CMP bans crowding at Patenga beach over virus

CMP bans crowding at Patenga beach over virus A policeman was seen announcing the ban on gathering at Patenga Sea Beach on Wednesday. -Collected

Police on Wednesday  have banned tourists at the Patenga sea beach amid concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Chattogram Police commissioner Mahbubur Rahman has imposed the ban as there was overflow of tourists at the beach in times when people are being asked to stay home.

Bangladesh has reported its first death from the novel coronavirus while 14 patients are infected with the disease across the country. Meantime, coronavirus in Bangladesh has spread to the level of local transmission, according to IEDCR. Health Minister Zahid Malik also said the number of coronavirus cases will rise in the country.

Parki beach is situated in Anwara thana under southern Chattogram region.The beach lies 16-17 km away from Chattogram city. As the beach is situated at the Karnafuli river channel, visitors can view both the Karnafuli River and the sea together. Tourists enjoy the views of big ships anchored at the outer dock, fishermen catching fish in sea, sunset, various colored crabs at the beach and quiet environment.

Every day, 1,500 to 2,000 visitors come to Parki beach in Anwara upazila in the southern Chittagong region. The number, however, jumps to around 10,000 on weekends and holidays, said locals.

But the resources of this beautiful beach are mostly going untapped as the authorities concerned are oblivious to the fact that the surrounding area of the 2-km-long beach can be further developed into a tourist hotspot, they said.

During a recent visit to the beach, some 17km off the port city, all sorts of man-made waste including beverage bottles, food packaging and coconut shells were found scattered all around the beach. There are around 70 makeshift shops that are set up on the beach without any visible restriction enforced by the authorities.

Due to the absence of residential accommodation and security measures, visitors have to leave the beach before the sundown. Moreover, there are only two public lavatories, of which one remains closed almost all the time, the locals said.

The beach offers a unique opportunity to view the Bay of Bengal and the river Karnaphuli at a time. While watching the sunset, visitors here can enjoy the view of large ships anchored at the outer dock of the port, fishermen catching fish in the sea, a Jhau forest and fish enclosures. Measures taken by the IEDCR following the detection of three coronavirus cases have lately raised some concerns.

At a press briefing on March 8, the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research announced the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. It said three Bangladeshis -- two of them Italy returnees  were found to have been infected with the virus.

It also said three others, believed to have come in close contact with the infected ones, were quarantined at hospital while another was self-quarantined at home. Then what about the other passengers of the two flights that carried the two Italy returnees to the country and those the two met at the Dhaka airport and later?

learnt that the IEDCR sought information on some passengers of the flights, not all of them, and the IEDCR move came only on Monday, almost two days after the three were tested coronavirus positive. Besides, until Tuesday, the IEDCR could not trace all the people who came in contact with the three in Bangladesh, said insiders at the IEDCR and the airport.

One of the Italy returnees landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) on February 26, said one of his relatives and sources at the airport. His wife then contracted the virus. The other Italy returnee came to the country in a flight in the first week of this month, said sources at the HSIA.

The sources said the IEDCR sought information on eight passengers from each of the two flights. They also said none of the officials at the airport was in quarantine. At the March 8 press conference, IEDCR Director Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora did not disclose information on the other passengers of two flights over "privacy reasons". Contacted by phone on Tuesday evening, she would not say whether any other passengers were quarantined.

"Why do you ask about personal information of the passengers? From my part, I cannot share any confidential information about anybody," Prof Flora told.

She, however, claimed that they had already traced all the people, feared to have come in close contact with the three coronavirus patients, in line with the WHO protocol.



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