The air of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka showed signs of slight improvement Sunday morning but it was still classified as ‘unhealthy’ in the Air Quality Index.
Dhaka had an AQI score of 136 at 8:35am. It ranked 15th worst in the list with a score of 132.
Thailand’s Chiang Mai occupied the first place with a score of 318 while Poland’s Krakow ranked second in the list of cities with the worst air with 188.
Also read:Dhaka ranks worst in Air Quality Index
When the AQI value is between 101 and 150, members of sensitive groups may experience health effects while general public is less likely to be affected.
The AQI, an index for reporting daily air quality, informs people how clean or polluted the air of a certain city is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them.
In Bangladesh, the AQI is based on five criteria pollutants - Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2 and Ozone.
Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution. Its air quality usually improves during monsoon.
Two thousand masks were distributed on Saturday among labourers, lower middle class and businessmen in various markets.
Earlier 15,000 masks were provided for the purpose by Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
Meat shops in Kawran Bazar, Malibag bazaar, Khilgaon, Taltola Bazar and Rampura Bazar were warned and fined on charges of selling commodities at excessive prices.
On Saturday, three teams of consumer directorate and three monitoring teams of Commerce Ministry in coordination with officials of the directorate imposed fines on 27 business enterprises while conducting day-long drives in 20 markets of Dhaka metropolis including shops retailing baby food, surgical masks, and sanitisers.
Manjur Morshed Shahriar, Deputy Director (Deputy Secretary) of Dhaka divisional office, led the drive at the instruction of Director General of National Consumer Conservation Directorate.
The markets were in Hazaribag Bazar, Jigatola Bazar, Mohammdpur Town Hall Bazar, Mohammadpur Krishi Market, Hatirpul Bazar, Kawran Bazar, Malibag Bazar, Khilgaon Tattola Bazar, Rampura Bazar, Maddhaya Badda Bazar, Uttar Badda Bazar, Godaraghat Bazar, Gulshan-2 kitchen market, Banani kitchen market, Mahakhali kitchen market, Kallayanpur kitchen market, Ashulia Bazar, Bypile Bazar and Savar Bus Stand Bazar.
At this time, the business enterprises were fined on charge of deception in sale price and also for not keeping the purchase receipt of commodities. They were fined also for not mentioning price on the cover of the products and for selling goods at prices exceeding the fixed price.
The consumers have been asked not to stock commodities being panicked. Besides, the businessmen were requested to behave responsibly.
The members of the law enforcing agencies extended cooperation during the drive which will continue for the sake of public interest.
Shonge Achi, a civil society organisation, has undertaken a plan for distributing food items, including rice, lentil and potato, among 10,000 struggling families in the capital in the next 10 days.
They will also distribute food among 100 people who have been left jobless due to the ongoing lockdown over COVID-19, at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) premises tomorrow afternoon, said a press release.
Later, they will repeat the programme at 10 more spots of the city.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Saturday called for developing a national strategy containing short, medium and long-term action plan to manage and steer the recovery process from socioeconomic setbacks caused by coronavirus.
TIB also recommended setting up a special fund equivalent to at least 10 percent of GDP, said a press release.
It reminded that management of any crisis like this is always vulnerable to corruption, and called for ensuring the highest standards of transparency and accountability in implementation of the strategy.
Recalling Prime Minister’s declaration on March 25 about the situation as a national crisis that needed collective action, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, “There's no scope of relaxing in complaisance relying on home quarantine and some visibly insufficient and uncoordinated measures.”
“Now is the time to develop a national strategy involving relevant national and international experts that will contain short, medium and long term plan of action,” he added.
“At the same time a special fund should be set up equivalent to at least 10 percent of GDP for managing the crisis and steering the process of recovery from the socioeconomic setback being inflicted,” Iftekharuzzaman said.
He also said the capacity to detect infection and treatment must be enhanced and decentralised across the country sooner than later.
“Doctors and health workers must get full protection and their valuable service duly recognised,” he added.
Commending the Prime Minister’s initiative in aid of workers of the export-oriented sectors and ultra-poor, the TIB executive director said, “The process to implement this important initiative including how its benefits will reach the workers must be clearly defined without delay.”
During this crisis, despite all restrictions, the supply chain of food and daily essentials must remain active, the statement said.
TIB asserted that in order to effectively face such a huge challenge, there is no alternative to ensuring the highest standard of transparency and accountability.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed sadness at the news of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson testing positive for COVID-19.
“While we're all fighting our own battles and challenges against the spread and loss of lives from the coronavirus pandemic, I have been closely following all your timely and dynamic leadership initiatives including extreme lockdown, supporting laws and financial stimulus to protect the people of the United Kingdom from the devastation and death from the coronavirus,” she said in a letter that sent to him.
She also said Bangladesh will always be ready to work with UK in the spirit of existing cooperations in mutual efforts to overcome this challenge and with determination to succeed.
PM’s Assistant Press Secretary ABM Sarwer-E-Alom Sarker said that in the letter, the prime minister wished Johnson swift recovery.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh acted very seriously from the very outset of this crisis understanding the grave concern over the global outbreak of this virus.
"We started screening the suspects at the airport along with the arrangement of dedicated quarantine zones for the people arriving from the affected countries since January. A high-powered national committee including the task forces of different compositions was formed to tackle the different dimensions of the spread of COVID-19 and its challenges," she wrote.
She said the government prepared designated hospitals, and equipped health professionals with necessary facilities. It shut down all educational institutions and locked down infection-prone areas to prevent community transmission and advised people to stay home.
"We suspended all public gatherings relating to the celebration of the long-cherished birth centenary of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and cancelled all the state and private get-togethers. We closed down all government and private offices and activities except the emergency services to curb the spread of the virus for 10 days since the 25th of this month," she wrote.
She said the government is unceasingly conducting mass awareness to protect the people from coronavirus.
Due to these preemptive measures, Bangladesh has so far 48 confirmed cases with five unfortunate deaths, along with 11 complete recoveries, she added.
She reiterated that the Bangladesh government will always be ready to work with UK government in the spirit of existing cooperations in mutual efforts to overcome this challenge, and with determination to succeed.