The members of the Bangladesh Army are at war with coronavirus to save thousands of lives across the country under the ongoing ‘Operation COVID Shield’ since March 25 this year.
After getting instruction of the Sheikh Hasina’s government, the members of the Bangladesh Army have been deployed in 62 districts in aid to civil power since detection of the first coronavirus case on March 8 in the country.
Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh Army General Aziz Ahmed is supervising the activities of his troops, who are providing different types of humanitarian services to the people during the country’s critical period.
Since March, the members of Bangladesh Army have set up two quarantine centers at the Ashkona Hajj Camp and the RAJUK apartment project adjacent to Uttara Diabari. After the necessary screening of the returnees from abroad, the army members have received the selected passengers and taken them to the quarantine from the airport. The army personnel were providing meals, medical treatment and other ancillary services to the passengers in the quarantines.
The medical corps of Bangladesh Army were assisting medical services in many districts even in the country’s hilly areas.
The army personnel are also maintaining social distance and take precautionary measures across the country since March. Since its deployment 550 teams of about 7,000 army personnel have been working in 62 districts daily.
Currently, 450 teams comprising about 5,500 members of Bangladesh Army are working in the districts. In addition to the towns and villages, they are encouraging the common people to maintain social distance, use masks and hand sanitisers in the marketplaces and places of worship. Adequate amount of these protective items have been distributed free of cost by the army. In addition to spraying disinfectants, disinfection tunnels have been set up in different districts under the supervision of the army.
When public life came to a standstill, the surplus rations of the force have been distributed to the doorsteps of the poor in the remote hilly areas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
At the same time, ‘One Minute Market’, ‘Sampriti Bazar’ and ‘Sena Bazar’ have been organised under the supervision of the army to deliver daily necessities to the unemployed and helpless people in different districts.
So far, the army has distributed relief items among 260,000 families.
The Army Aviation Group has regularly delivered relief items and emergency medical supplies to the cantonments in different parts of the country.
In addition, Army Aviation Group has three MI helicopters and a Casa C-295 aircraft ready to assist in emergencies. Air ambulance facilities have been added to two more army helicopters in service to transport emergency patients from any part of the country.
The armed forces members are buying vegetables directly from marginal farmers at fair prices and distribute these vegetables among 16,000 helpless and distressed families. In addition, the armed forces have distributed various types of agricultural seeds free of cost among 24,000 poor farmers.
So far, the army has provided free medical and emergency medicine to 36,269 helpless and distressed people.
Apart from this, as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the army has provided special healthcare, free medicines and gifts to pregnant mothers in their respective areas from June 9 to July 9. A total of 13,084 pregnant mothers have benefited from this month-long programme.
At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, financial assistance was provided by the Army to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund to expedite the government initiative to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition to giving the one-day salaries of all ranks of the Bangladesh Army, a total of Tk 25 crore was provided to the fund by the Army Welfare Organisation, Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory Limited, Bangladesh Diesel Plant Limited and Trust Bank Limited.
Following a directive from General Aziz Ahmed, the members of the Bangladesh Army have also manufactured ventilators for critically ill patients suffering from the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Navy has deployed nine ships in the sea and coastal areas for creating awareness and taking precautionary measures to check to contain spread of coronavirus.
In order to raise awareness, the navy ships are operating in Saint Martin’s, Cox’s Bazar, Kutubdia, Patharghata, Barguna, Bhasan Char, Payra Port and Chandpur.
The Navy people were giving various suggestions through loudspeaker announcements and regularly instructing fishermen in small and large trawlers and fishing boats to maintain social distance and prevent transmission of the coronavirus pandemic.
Masks and disinfectant soaps are being provided to ensure the safety of fishermen. Besides, various relief goods, including rice and pulses, are being provided to the poor to face emergencies.
The members of the Bangladesh Navy were also conducting various awareness programmes and distributing relief materials among the poor and helpless people, sources in the Bangladesh Navy said.
Bangladesh Navy has also provided different types of medical and safety equipment to different hospitals, including Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital, Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College & Hospital, Mugda Medical College and Hospital, Combined Military Hospital, Armed Forces Medical College and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
They are also conducting various awareness programmes, including how to disinfect germ and provide food and medical assistance, in areas under their supervision in Dhaka, Khulna and Chattogram areas to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to managing the situation, they are distributing various relief items, including rice and pulse, to the houses of the local poor and helpless people.
In addition to ongoing programmes, a Bangladesh Navy ship has carried more than 100 metric tons of food, medicines and medical equipment to Maldives in assistance from Bangladesh to help the country people to prevent coronavirus.
On the other hand, the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) was providing emergency air transport and medical evacuation assistance in aid to civil power under the ‘Operation COVID Shield’ from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The BAF helicopters airlifted a number of public representatives and doctors, who tested positive for coronavirus.
A BAF C-130J aircraft has brought essential healthcare aids from China in April.
The BAF personnel also provided humanitarian assistance to the helpless and the poor people in the crisis.
They have distributed essentials commodities among the low-income people under the arrangement of BAF Base Bashar of Tejgaon in May.