The Challenges of an Effective Quarantine in Bangladesh

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Parvedge Haider

The term ‘Quarantine’ has been originated from a Venetian[1] word ‘Quarantena’, meaning “forty days”, used in 14th-15th-century and designating the period that all ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the ‘Black Death’ plague epidemic. It was the most devastating pandemic recorded in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351[2].

Photo-1: Quarantena in Venice

The necessity of ‘Quarantine’ has been felt since long in the history for creating obstruction in spreading any contagious disease. In the recent months CORONA virus related disease COVID 19 has been spread almost all over the world. Bangladesh as a densely populated country, it is expected that the rate of transmission of virus will be very fast, provided the nation do not become conscious. Bangladesh Government has imposed a nationwide lockdown. Authorities declared a ban on passenger travel via water, rail and domestic air routes from March 24 while all public transports on roads will be suspended from March 26. Trucks, covered van and vehicles carrying medicine, fuels and perishable items will remain out of the purview of the lockdown. Educational institutions, government offices, shops, markets, shopping malls etc. (except hospitals, pharmaceuticals, grocery stores) are closed until 4 April 2020. Bangladesh Government has requested the nation to remain extra cautious and give importance of home quarantine for a certain period.

What is Quarantine?

It is a restriction on the movement of people and goods which are intended to prevent the spread of disease. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis. Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. Quarantine can also help limit the spread of communicable disease.[3]

Photo-2: Special Quarantine Arrangement

Isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease. Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases. For example, hospitals use isolation for patients with infectious tuberculosis.

COVID 19 and Home Quarantine in Bangladesh

Detection of a travel related/unrelated suspect case of COVID-19 will be followed by rapid isolation of such cases in designated health facilities and line listing of all contacts of such cases. Home quarantine is applicable to all such contacts of a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19.

The home quarantined persons should maintain the following:

  • Stay in a well-ventilated single-room preferably with an attached/separate toilet.
  • If another family member needs to stay in the same room, it’s advisable to maintain a distance of at least 1 meter between the two.
  • Needs to stay away from elderly people, pregnant women, children and persons with co-morbidities within the household.
  • Restrict his/her movement within the house.
  • Under no circumstances attend any social/religious gathering e.g. wedding, condolences, etc.

The Challenges of Home Quarantine in Bangladesh

Quarantines aren’t particularly easy to implement in a densely populated country like Bangladesh. It require adequate infrastructure, so that people can safely quarantine themselves. Many western economies are capable of providing such facilities for their people during a crisis. The possible challenges of home quarantine in Bangladesh are as follows:

  • Most of the houses are not large enough for people to safely quarantine themselves or isolate members who are exhibiting symptoms or have tested positive.
  • Most Bangladeshi houses have one or two rooms. In maximum cases, people need to share one room with each other.
  • In most of the cases, there are practices of common toilet in Bangladesh. So, it is really difficult to ensure a successful home quarantine.
  • There are many commercial ventures within a residential area. Many houses in Bangladesh that do not have any exclusive space for living as the room in which they live; these are also used as a shop or office.

CHT Tribal Culture in‘Locking Down’ a Particular Area

In Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), there is a culture of ‘Lock Down’ of a particular area. During the ‘Lock Down’ time none is allowed to enter in that particular area. If someone does it, then the ‘Lock Down’ process also ends. At that time who so ever breaks the rules of ‘Lock Down’, he or she needs to pay a certain amount of expenditure. After a pause, the Vanteys (religious leaders) starts reading the sermons from their religious books and again the ‘Lock Down’ process begins.

Photo-3: ‘Lock Down’ culture of a CHT village

This ‘Lock Down’ culture is being practiced in Chakma, Marma and other tribes. It has been learnt that recently, there are some tribal villages at Baghaichari area which have been declared as ‘Lock Down’. Some of the tribal youths, who came back from Dhaka and Chittagong as a follow up action of CORONA crisis, they were not allowed to take entry in those ‘Lock Down’ villages. These tribal youths had to manage some space with their friends staying at Upazilla town.

There are significantly positive approaches of the Government of Bangladesh to counter COVID 19 crisis. Despite the Challenges of ensuring an effective Home Quarantine, the active posture with a priority of humanity, Bangladesh Army is continuing a relentless effort for keeping the nation safe. Every single person of this country has a responsibility towards the nation. The birth of Bangladesh was happened through a bloody war in 1971 and the brave nation fought with courage by the call of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibor Rahman. After the independence, the nation had to pass through a number of catastrophes. Like the previous successes, this time also Bangladeshi as a nation will be able to counter the CORONA crisis.


Parvedge Haider

Researcher, CHT and Regional Politics



[1] Relating to Venice or its people.
[2] Black Death, , accessed on March 26, 2020.
[3] What is the difference between isolation and quarantine? , accessed on March 26, 2020.
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