Published:  05:17 AM, 22 March 2020

Launches full of people increase spreading of coronavirus risk

Thousands of panicked passengers returning to their native homes through water ways without any screening creating anxiety about spreading corona virus infection in the region through engaging in social contacts.

Passengers who are boarding at water ways said felling Dhaka Metropolitan City as unsafe and unhygienic and most of the educational institutions, residential halls already closed and working places limited their activities, so they returning to their native home for taking rest and meeting relatives.

S.M.Ajair Rahman, deputy commissioner Barishal, said till this report no restriction was imposed against plying water and road transports on long routes. But he advised sick and foreign-returned passengers not to board on mass transports.

After visiting Barisal river port area on Saturday it was found that six triple-deck launches overloaded with 12 to 15 thousand passengers like the rush of Eid holidays reached from Dhaka in morning.

All of the launches except MV Manami, a passenger launch plying on Barishal- Dhaka-Barishal route, failed to examine passengers with thermal sensor before boarding and supplying mask, hygienic hand washing liquids.

Shahadat Hossain, supervisor of MV Manami launch , said they permitted passengers to board on the vessel only after examining them with thermal scanner. They also are supplying passengers hand washing liquids free of cost, and mask if needed.

SM Zakir Hossain, supervisor of MV Sundarbon launch fleet plying routes connecting Dhaka on waterways with southern region, said they trying to propagate awareness programmes for the passengers who want to board on the launch.

Ajmal Huda Mithu, joint director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), said they asked transport owners not carry sick and foreign-returned passengers. Over one lakh passengers returned from Dhaka to 38 routes of southern region including Barishal in recent days using water transports.

However river port authourity yet not managed to install thermal scanners at the port for checking before boarding on water transports, he added.Monir Hossain, one fruit traders at Dhaka Shaymbazaar, said they returned home with his four members of family as educational institution of their children were closed.

Shah Sajeda, convener, Sacheton Nagorik Committee, said huge passengers are coming from Dhaka without any screening increasing danger of spreading corona infection. Dr. Basudeb Das, Barishal divisional health director, called people to avoid mass gathering and crowded places to control the spread of Corona virus in the region.

---Masuk Kamal, Barishal

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