2021 comes with hopes
The horrors of 2020 will continue into the year ahead. The devastation wrought by the pandemic will be lasting and painful. Bangladesh, just like the rest of the world, will be reeling with new surges of COVID patients dying or surviving with long-haul symptoms. The nation will remember 2020 as a year of grief and trauma.
The virus has so much momentum that more infection and death are almost inevitable as the second pandemic year begins. Pain will probably ease, but never completely go away. Bangladesh showed clear signs of resilience in the relentless battle against the virus. The next few months will be dark, but every passing day brings a little more light with the news of the vaccine’s arrival.
President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in their New Year messages, vowed to lead them through the challenges posed by the pandemic. Hasina called for mutual cooperation of all, saying that it is the only way to deal with any global crisis, reports bdnews24.com.
With more than 1.7 million people dead and 82 million infected around the globe since last New Year's Eve - yet hope that new vaccines can help tame the pandemic - the year ended unlike any other in memory. Angela Merkel, in her 16th New Year's Eve address as German chancellor, said as much.
"I think I am not exaggerating when I say: never in the last 15 years have we found the old year so heavy. And never have we, despite all the worries and some scepticism, looked forward to the new one with so much hope."
With the COVID-19 morphing into the biggest issue the world over, Bangladesh reported its first cases on Mar 8 after the virus was first detected in China by the end of 2019. After nearly 10 more months, Bangladesh has more than half a million confirmed coronavirus infections with over 7,500 deaths from the respiratory illness caused by the virus.
It has been a year of loss and sorrow. At the same time, it has been a period for the world of coming together as one. Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury thinks 2020 was a “very bad” year, while Prof Muhammed Zafar Iqbal says the world would “toss it away much earlier if they could!". Now the year is gone with the clock ticking past midnight to the New Year’s Day.
Coupled with the fears of the virus transmission, a police ban on almost all sorts of New Year’s Eve revelry and gatherings dampened the celebrations largely, but many residents of Dhaka have ringed in the new year with firecrackers.
The year, however, began with hope for huge celebrations on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's birth centenary. But the emergence of the coronavirus in China cast a shadow on the plans, making people more acquainted with words like “isolation”, “quarantine”, “social distancing” and “lockdown”.
And finally, Bangladesh reported the first cases in March amid an exodus of returnees who lost jobs or wanted to be with their families at home during the pandemic.
The migrant workers’ path for a return to their countries of work was closed shortly afterwards. But only around 8,000 workers could travel abroad between July and November after flights resumed following months of halt on operations.