The number of people keen on receiving vaccine shots against Covid-19 is increasing daily. Queues of people to get doses are getting longer at Dhaka's hospitals and health facilities with vaccine centres.
Many people show up even without any text messages putting them on a vaccination schedule, and there is no sign of complying with health safety and social distancing rules.
The ever-growing crowds of vaccine seekers risk spreading the virus.
According to the authorities at Mugda Medical College and Hospital, a vaccination centre, text messages were sent to 1,200 people on Wednesday, but 1,551 people were vaccinated on Thursday.
Without text messages inviting them, the remaining 351 people vaccinated were difficult to serve, beyond the capacity and the target of the hospital.
On Thursday morning, vaccines were administered on the second floor of the new Mugda Hospital building.
With seething crowds of people waiting since morning for vaccination, and expatriates from different parts of the country, there was no way to tell whether they were there for vaccination or a rally!
There were no lines. Everyone was standing next to each other and there wasn't adequate arrangement for the sick and the elderly to sit. It seemed that at least one thousand people were standing.
With only three fans overhead in the heat, all in all, it was a dismal picture of mismanagement, many showing their displeasure with standing in long lines.
Thirty-year-old expatriate Sathi Akhter, who came from Kushtia to Mugda Hospital, was one of them. To get vaccinated, she spent Tk4,000 to travel to Dhaka in the midst of a lockdown.
She told TBS, "I have been standing here since 8am to get vaccinated. Its 1pm and I have still not been able to get the shot. My legs hurt from standing. There are so many people here that I can't even find a proper place to stand."
Pranta Singh, a student of Dhaka University who came to get the jab, told TBS that it was difficult to stand here due to the crowding and hot weather. It was more crowded in the morning.
"As far as hygiene is concerned, the way people are touching each other, it seems the hospital is now a coronavirus farming centre," he said.
The overflowing crowds of vaccine seekers have increased not only at Mugda Hospital, but also at almost all vaccination centres in the capital.
There was a long line of people at 8am, at Gate 2 of the Police Line Hospital in Rajarbagh, waiting for the Moderna vaccine. In the approximately half kilometre long line on the side of the road, many sick and old people stood a long time in the scorching sun.
Tajul Islam, 65, whose grandson held an umbrella over his head to protect him from the sun, was one of them.
"If I knew there would be such a long line, I would not have come to take the vaccine. The government should have set up a separate line for the elderly and the sick like us, or arranged vaccination for us at home," he told TBS.
There were long lines of expatriates at Dhaka Medical College and Suhrawardy Medical College on Thursday, waiting to get the vaccine. The line at Dhaka Medical College went all the way to the Central Shaheed Minar.
Twenty-year-old Jobayer Hossain, an expatriate from Cumilla, told TBS, "I have been standing in line here since 6 in the morning. I have not been able to eat anything in the morning and not yet at noon either, because if you go somewhere for food, you will not get back your place in line. It is very difficult to stand here. The government should have made arrangements for expatriates to get vaccinated in the districts in advance."
Asked about this, Mugda Hospital Director Asim Kumar Nath told TBS, "The pressure of people has increased daily, and there will be more and more pressure in the coming days. More and more people are coming all at the same time for online vaccination cards. Our server is also having a lot of problems. Nowadays server traffic has increased dramatically and it is taking us a little more time to vaccinate."
He said the government should increase manpower at every vaccination centre. Vaccination centers should be ward-based in the capital now. Otherwise, it will not be possible for hospitals alone to cope with the pressure of people.