Covid-19 pandemic, a global phenomenon stepped in the country on 8 March this year. Here is a look back at the events centering it thorough lenses.
The pandemic rang its bell for the first time in Bangladesh with the return of expatriates from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak. A special flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines brought back 316 Bangladeshi citizens stranded in Wuhan in February. The returnees from Wuhan were kept at the quarantine unit at Ashkona Hajj camp.
Covid-19 testing procedure includes taking samples from the back of the mouth through the nose. In the initial stage of the outbreak suspected patients had to visit IEDCR for turning in the samples. Later people could go to nearby booths or kiosks to give samples. They can now give the samples by connecting the lab authorities, staying from their area for coronavirus tests.
A sudden 'general holiday' in March almost emptied the roads of Dhaka in a flash. The government initially declared a 10-day general holiday, from March 26 to April 4, two weeks after the country reported its first positive case. The general holiday was later extended seven times finally ending in May.
However, the impromptu shutdown removed public transportations from the scene. It caused a great deal of suffering for the public who had no choice but to go out. Public transports had remained closed since 26 March 26 till 31 May 31. Although the bus services resumed on 1 June, at that time, the government increased fares by 60 percent. It would take the month of September to transportations return to normal capacity.
Previously, the fear of a long-lasting government-imposed lockdown caused the people to flock to kitchen markets and super shops around the capital and stock as much as they could in a frenzy. The prices of many food items and household essentials had gone up 10 to 20 percent, in the capital, due to panic-buying by consumers amid the coronavirus fear in early March.
The sudden closure of institutions and businesses impacted countless lives and the country's economy. According to a BIDS study, Bangladesh would see 1.64 crore new poor this year as a result of the shutdowns.
It reflected on the stock market as well. The worsening pandemic situation made the market almost buyer-less during mid-year as the outbreak expected to have a long-lasting adverse impact on the country's economy.
Despite various measures, the march of death from the disease continues to this day. As of December 29, the number of fatalities from the virus in the country stands at 7,479 with 1.47 percent mortality rate.
Although economic activities resumed on 31 May after a 66-day nationwide shutdown, consumer demand fell to a fraction of what it used to be before the pandemic.
Among 30 lakh shops across the country, the majority could not make enough money to cover their costs which affected the lives of over one crore people for sure.
Even the kitchen markets saw a decline in demand after the economic shutdown was over in May. A seller from Karwan Bazar area estimated in June that 20 to 25 percent of regular customers reportedly vanished from the market while restaurant orders for groceries have dried up and sales roughly fell by one-third.
So was the picture in fish markets too this year with a steady decline in demand and numbers of customers. Sellers said even lowered price of the fish was not attracting many customers to the market.
Playing a vital role alongside physicians, more than 7,000 army personnel in nearly 600 teams kept working implementing the government order of social distancing since March when the government deployed the army to aid civil administration to tackle the spread of the virus.
They patrolled across the country to enforce social distancing, provide protective equipment – including face masks and hand sanitisers – and create awareness about coronavirus.
As e-commerce platforms saw a booming 2020, the popularity of online shopping skyrocketed. With it, a growing number of youths took the jobs of deliverymen in order to survive throughout the pandemic. In response to the growing trend of ordering products online, companies such as Foodpanda, Evaly, Daraz, Shohoz, Pathao and many others geared up to take the business offering people, mostly youths, an income stream where the bar to start is low. Their incomes range from Tk10,000 to Tk20,000 per month.
To combat the raging pandemic and boost the safety and morale of health professionals in the fight against Covid-19, apparel exporters started producing personal protective equipment (PPE), following the standard set by the government in March-April. According to the BGMEA, the apparel industry faced about $3.18 billion worth of cancellations and withdrawals by international brands and buyers due to the global pandemic.
However, a huge number of workers who are the key to the apparel industry lost their jobs throughout the year for declining demand. Moreover, protests for due payments and against layoffs happened on a regular basis.
For pandemic victims, the disaster management and relief ministry distributed 2.01 lakh tonne of rice, Tk91.13 crore hand cash and Tk25.54 crore cash for baby food across 64 districts till June 4 which increased by the end of the year. More than 6.74 crore people from over 1.50 crore families were benefited by government relief assistance. However, allegations of corruption and irregularities raised controversies.
News of people dying without getting treatment at hospitals was reported in the media regularly in the early period of Pandemic. The High Court later asked the authorities concerned to take legal action against hospitals and clinics if they are found negligent in rendering healthcare services to general patients.
Virtual healthcare services emerged to be an undisputed way to contain the spread of Covid-19. Telemedicine served as an essential mean to provide healthcare services in remote areas. Over 20 telemedicine service providers, including Praava Health and Doctor Dekhao, were listed by the health ministry.
The photos were captured by our photographer Mumit M