The riverine border between India and Bangladesh has often witnessed cases of cattle smuggling with the Border Security Force almost always in a state of high alert on the border as there are many parts of the border which are unfenced. In a shocking incident, a man from Bangladesh, swam across a river to enter India as he sought treatment for the Wuhan coronavirus.
Abdul Haque, a Bangladeshi national, swam across the Kushiyara river to enter India at 7:30 AM on Sunday. He claimed that he has the Wuhan coronavirus and has come to India to seek treatment. The villagers spotted Haque and immediately informed the BSF authorities.
“The Bangladeshi national swam across the Kushiyara river located on the border between the two countries and entered India around 7:30 AM on Sunday. When villagers on the Indian side saw him, they stopped him there and informed us,” said Deputy Inspector General JC Nayak. He added, “The person had fever, didn’t look too well and was speaking incoherently. He was claiming that he was suffering from Covid-19 and crossed the river to seek treatment in India.”
The authorities from Border Guards Bangladesh upon being informed about the incident came to collect Abdul Haque with two boats around 9 AM. “In view of Covid-19, we have intensified patrolling in the border areas to ensure no one enters India from Bangladesh. But the area where this incident happened is unfenced till now. We had carried out awareness programs in villages and that is the reason why they informed us immediately,” said Nayak.
This incident reveals the state of quandary that Bangladesh finds itself in the wake of the pandemic. Bangladesh with a population of 168 million has reported 5,416 cases of the virus with 145 fatalities. The actual number is likely to be higher as testing numbers in Bangladesh remain abysmally low.
“Testing is sparse and there are a huge number of coronavirus-infected people who have not been tested. They are spreading the virus. Testing needs to be ramped up and a strict lockdown should be enforced immediately, or the situation will go out of control,” said Professor Mozaherul Haque, former regional director (South-East Asia) of WHO.
In the first week of April, Bangladesh sent alarm bell ringings as the case of the virus rose by a whopping 600% between April 1 and April 9. Bangladesh is currently in the stage-3 of the pandemic and with social distancing norms not being followed, it is only a matter of time before the country enters into stage-4 where the virus’ spread gets uncontrollable.
“We are at Stage 3 of the pandemic right now. But if social distancing norms are not followed very strictly and a total lockdown is not enforced, we will enter Stage 4,” said Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, Director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research.
One reason why Bangladesh is not testing enough is because of its abysmal health infrastructure. For a country of almost 170 million, Bangladesh has only 8.7 beds per 10,000 people. The entire country has only 1,169 ICU beds of which only 432 are from government hospitals while the rest 737 belong to the private healthcare sector. Alarmingly, out of the 432 ICU beds belonging to the government, only 110 are situated outside Dhaka.