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POST TIME: 4 April, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 April, 2020 01:02:40 AM
Motivating people to take coronavirus precautions
Along with urging people to stay at home, it is also essential to awaken in them a willingness to follow the directives of the government for keeping themselves and others safe
KHANDOKER MONTASIR HASSAN

Motivating people to take coronavirus precautions

The tension for novel coronavirus is mounting. New infection cases are arising in the country amid different restrictive measures, including lockdown, closing of all educational institutions and prohibiting mass gatherings — political, social, religious or cultural. For Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the most important challenges are now: to enforce social distancing guidelines, self-quarantine at home and to stop panic buying and spreading rumours.

The United States, the only super-power of the world, itself is now struggling as the country has the highest number of coronavirus cases now. Along with the unstoppable increase in the number of coronovirus infections and death tolls, more alarming news for us is that the US and other developed countries around the world (e.g. Italy and China) have already expressed their helplessness and limitations as they have reported major shortages of ventilators, respirators, test kits, surgical masks and other essential health equipment for dealing with this deadly pandemic.

On Thursday the CNN has reported that a registered nurse wrote in a social media post about what she experienced inside a Long Island hospital: “I cried in the bathroom on my break, I cry because we intubated 5 patients within 10 minutes and I’m terrified. I cry because we know it will get worse and already feel like that is impossible and we are already at our breaking point.”  

Now the question is when the situation in US is like this, and if things really deteriorate further, how dreadful it will be for us can easily be anticipated. The number of cases detected in Bangladesh so far reveals that almost all have been infected with the virus after coming directly or indirectly in contact with someone who had returned from abroad. This means we have already failed to compel the returnees from abroad to follow the directives and it has also been proved that a general ban on public gathering and social distancing guidelines won’t be sufficient at all to combat this challenge in Bangladesh.

Therefore, it is high time, we made the mass people realise the fact that whatever measures the government takes if the disease spreads like the heavily affected countries of the world, ensuring sufficient and timely health services to every infected patient will be next to impossible for a country like Bangladesh which is already struggling to provide basic health care facilities to her people.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested ‘partial or complete lockdown’, the reality is Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries of the world. So putting any city or the country under complete lockdown is very difficult impossible. Under these circumstances, along with enforcing people to stay at home it is also essential to motivate and awaken them for creating a willingness in their mind to follow the directives for the sake of themselves from this deadly virus. The psychology of religion and motivated behaviour can play a great role in this regard.

We have to motivate them religiously to awaken people.  Whether the person lives in a western society like the US, Asia or African countries, it is a tested fact that religious belief is one of the most important social institutions.

 Let’s take a look at what Islam says about cleanliness and disease: In the Quran, Allah says: “Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you and to complete His Favour on you that you may be thankful.” (Surah Al-Maidah, 5:6). There is an important tradition of the Prophet (SM): “Cleanliness is half the faith.” So, we can understand that Islam has always emphasized on cleanliness both physically and mentally and the Prophet (SM) is the best example for that. If we study the life of the Prophet (SM), we will find that he always maintained a healthy and hygienic life. He practised cleanliness himself and ordered his companions to follow as well.

Keeping the body and cloths clean, taking bath regularly, brushing the teeth, wearing clean and comfortable cloths – all these were the regular practices of the Prophet (SM). In fact, Islam has put so much emphasis on cleanliness that it considers cleanliness as a prerequisite to faith. The believers can be reminded that the measure of quarantine was also suggested by the Prophet (SM): "If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter into it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are already in it, do not leave that place." (Sahih Bukhari).

Besides instructing people to take all the precautionary measures like washing hands with soap regularly, avoiding physical contact, covering mouth and nose at the time of coughing and sneezing, wearing facemask and avoiding touching face, mouth or eyes with unwashed hands, we also have to make people aware and make them realize that not following these directives in preventing the deadly virus is not only the violation of the directives of the state but also goes against the teaching of Islam. In the same way, people should also be taught that hoarding essential things is also strictly prohibited in Islam.

The writer is an Associate Professor, English, Institute

of Modern Languages, (IML), Jagannath University.

E-mail: montasirjnu@gmail.com