Politicians at home, when virus makes its way into the corridors of power

Photo: Collected

Increasing numbers of people are now working from home as Covid-19 spreads, having infected more than 300 people in Bangladesh to date and taken the lives of 21.

The novel coronavirus has also made its way into the corridors of power with a growing number of politicians in Bangladesh keeping themselves indoors, in line with the nationwide shutdown to stem the spread of the pandemic.

The government ordered a shutdown from March 26, which it first said was for 10 days until April 4 before extending it to April 14.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has joined global leaders who have removed themselves from their workplaces.

She has been conducting meetings via phone and videoconference. However, she meets small groups of people, says an aide.

“She is dealing with her everyday task from her official residence [Ganabhaban]. She is giving necessary instructions to government officials and party leaders over the phone. Apart from official things, she’s saying her daily prayers and taking walks on the lawn of Ganabhaban every day,” Biplab Barua, a special assistant to the prime minister, told media.

The problem with politicians is that they are accustomed to meeting large numbers of people on a regular basis and therefore are not always able to keep the social distancing required in these circumstances.

On the other side, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is on a mandatory 14-day quarantine, which ends on April 9, at her residence in Gulshan.

She was released on March 25 from prison conditionally after the government suspended her sentence on ‘humanitarian grounds’ amid the surge in coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile that was exactly the case with senior Cabinet member Obaidul Quader, who also serves as the Awami League general secretary, until he was told by the prime minister to stay indoors.

Quader, who is in charge of the road transport and bridges ministry, is now communicating with his colleagues at the Secretariat as well as in the party through phone, e-mail and videoconference.