Thousands throng Sadarghat amid fear of Covid-19 infection

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Ignoring health directives to contain the spread of Covid-19, several thousands of people thronged the Sadarghat area today to witness the rescue operations of the launch capsize.

During a visit, people were seen roaming around the accident spot on small boats, ignoring the directives of maintaining social distancing — the majority of them had no face masks either.

The rescue operation were also hampered due to their gathering and the fire service and river police officials were seen shouting on loudspeakers: “Please move aside and allow us to do our job. The divers are working under your boats.”

Our correspondent met with Sujon Miah, a worker of a wholesale fruit shop, who came to witness the rescue operations from the Mitford area by hiring a boat.

When asked, Sujon replied with a smile, “I have to come to see what is happening here.”

Regarding the mask, Sujon said that he has the mask in the shop but forgot to bring it while rushing out.

Sujon’s boat carried around six to seven other people. During the conversation, a person standing beside Sujon said, “What is your problem? Just do your job.”

Due to huge gathering, the on-duty river police officials were seen trying to move people away by charging batons after 11:30am so that the rescuers can work without facing any problems.

Rezaul Karim, officer-in-charge (OC) of River Police of Sadargaht Terminal, told The Daily Star that the relatives of missing passengers first started gathering in the middle of the river. Along with them, some very enthusiastic people also gathered in the area by hiring boats to witness the rescue operation, he said.

“We patrolled the area with three boats and tried to keep people away so that the rescuers can work. Due to our efforts, the rescue operation did not see any problem,” added OC Rezaul.

However, experts feared that the coronavirus would spread in the area due to the violations of the health directives.

Professor Be-Nazir Ahmed, former Director of Disease Control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said that the way people gathered in the area made it seem like there is no pandemic situation prevailing.

People were seen caring little about their safety — if there are any mild cases of coronavirus in the area then it will spread among the people and it is highly risky, he added.

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