The Financial Express

Even as coronavirus rages, Bangladesh Secretariat lets down the guard

| Updated: September 27, 2020 17:55:38

A general view of Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka — Social Media A general view of Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka — Social Media

Even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on the lives of Bangladeshis, neglect of health and safety protocols is rife across the country, not least the Secretariat in Dhaka, the heart of the administration, bdnews24.com reports.

Currently, no-one is checking the body temperature of officials and other employees upon arrival. Hand-washing or disinfection facilities disappeared from the entrances of some buildings.

While some ministries installed disinfection tunnels at building entrances on their own initiatives in April, most are now out of order, while the ones that still work are barely used.

Officials show little or no inclination for physical distancing on the elevators in the early hours even though notices hung on the walls clearly advise against such practices.

Many are also seen roaming around freely inside the Secretariat without wearing masks.

Bangladesh reported its first case of the novel coronavirus on March 8. The government subsequently enforced a nationwide lockdown on March 26 before extending it to May 30. Offices, public transports and educational institutions were all shut down during this period.

Economic activities have resumed gradually after the country reopened on May 31 following a 66-day shutdown.

The labour and employment ministry was among the first to set up disinfection tunnels.

But some of the tunnels were not found in working condition, while one of them had no power connection at all. The picture was the same at the Local Government Division and some other ministries.

The disinfection tunnels at the Roads and Highways Division are functional, but no-one was using them.

"We all know each other as no visitors are allowed now. So we are not facing any major issues at work," an official of the division told the news agency.

"We need to be careful to prevent the risk of infection. We can't just depend on the ministry to take measures," he added.

Officials and staffers use five of the six elevators in the 21-storey building. People stood shoulder to shoulder in the lifts at the start of the workday on Thursday.

"We face difficulties in the morning when people queue up. No-one listens to us," a lift operator, asking to remain unnamed, told the news agency.

Another lift operator said many of the officials take their masks off and begin to talk when they see someone they know. "We can't tell them anything because they are our superiors."

The authorities set up a basin, and kept soap for hand-washing at the entrance of the building No. 4.

Now the basin stands bare, without any soap. Employees say no-one has used it for a long time.

Shaikh Yusuf Harun, the public administration secretary, told the news agency that they are watching whether the people at the Secretariat have been following the health protocols.

"If ministry or department officials are notified about employees not complying with hygiene rules, they will be reminded of the rules,” an official of the Cabinet Division said.


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