Though coughing, sneezing and suffering from fever are common in Bangladesh at this time of season, people with these symptoms are now being subjected to social stigma and harassment as the crisis over the coronavirus is now testing human relations.
Some victims of such harassment shared the ordeal they are going through with UNB as people’s excessive precaution and obsession with personal safety about the coronavirus has turned into a serious panic, eroding the sense of humanity.
Besides, some people are taking to the Facebook to seek help to save their near and dear ones from such sufferings and vent their anger towards the inhuman attitude of people.
Experts said people should remain alert, but not being inhuman and irresponsible at this critical time as collective efforts are needed to prevent such a deadly virus and overcome the disaster.
Talking to UNB, Nurjahan Begaum, a housewife who resides in Rampura area, said she has been suffering from fever for the last nine days, but facing trouble to receive healthcare.
“I went to a doctor in my area five days back, but he refused to examine me fearing he might get contacted coronavirus as he thought I was infected with coronavirus. He suggested me to contact the IEDCR to collect my blood sample,” he said.
The housewife said she then wet to Better Life Hospital at Rampura where doctors also showed a neglecting attitude towards her. “Upon my request, a doctor prescribed me some drugs for fever. I stay with my son who works in a private firm. I asked one of our relatives to come to my house to look after me, but she too refused out of fear. Even my neighbour who used to visit me frequently is now avoiding me as they heard I’m suffering from fever. By the time my fever subsided as I was not a coronavirus patient, but the experience I gathered is very painful. People are losing sympathy thinking about their personal safety.”
Another woman came live on the Facebook and sought help from army and journalists to save a youth who was forced out by the landlord of the house he rented near Bata Signal crossing under New Market Police Station on Monday night as he has shown some coronavirus-like symptoms.
She said earlier the youth was forced out of his office suspecting he was infected with the coronavirus.
The woman said she tried to reach the IEDCR through the hotline numbers, but failed. “Where will the boy go now? He also can’t go back to his Shariatpur Home due to lockdown. If the boy stays outside, many people also may get infected by him. So, please help him. I urge the army and journalists to help the boy. He has no one to get help.”
A tea sealer, Selim Mia, in the city’s Mouchak area said he has caught cold five days ago and he is taking medicine for it. “But my customers, who used to come to my stall regularly, stop visiting it as a rumour has spread that I was infected with coronavirus. My relatives are asking me to go to the IEDCR.”
Protap Shekhar Mohanta, a Facebook user gave a post depicting how people are going to sufferings to receive treatment from for fever, respiratory problem, chest pain and pneumonia.
“Hospitals are suggesting people having the above complications to go to four designated hospitals, including Kurmitola one. The four hospitals ask people to first contact the IEDCR for going through the test. If one goes to the IEDCR, they advise to contact through hotlines…the IEDCR also says if you didn’t come close contact to anyone returned from abroad need not to go for the test. By this process people are being harassed while the critical ones are embracing death,” Shekhar said.
Contacted, former chairman of National Human Rights Commission Kazi Reazul Hoque said the government should take steps to ensure human rights of people under the current disastrous situation.
“Those who are sick have the right to receive treatment and the right to be tested. The government should immediately set up adequate number of corona virus testing centres. It also should ensure necessary protective gears for doctors so that they can attend the patients without any fear.”
Rezaul said the government should also carry out campaign so that people become aware of the virus instead of getting panicked. “This is a test of the resolve, not to panic. Panicking helps no one.”
Founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra Dr Zafrullah said the government should ensure available testing kits, centres and personal protective equipment for doctors for the proper identification of coronavirus patients and the treatment of people.
“The doctors need to be courageous under the current situation, and they shouldn’t turn down any patient to provide treatment. People will get panicked seriously if the hospitals, doctors and nurses become scared. It’s time for the healthcare workers to play their due rule as per their professional ethics and serve the humanity,” he observed.
Dr Zafrullah suggested the government to form a high-powered national committee to deal with current situation and ensure people’s human rights and the right to get treatment.