Around 1,000 farmers thronged Alampur Baliapara ground in Kushtia Sadar upazila, the largest cattle market in the district, with their animals on Saturday without maintaining social distancing though the coronavirus cases are spiking in the country.
Visiting the weekly market, the UNB correspondent found huge crowds at the cattle market with few wearing facemasks.
According to locals, there are about 12 markets of sacrificial animals in the district where the wholesale merchants gather to collect cattle and take those to other parts of the country.
This year the scenario was quite different as there was neither any individual buyer nor any merchant from other districts to buy sacrificial animals from the Kushtia market.
Disappointed, many farmers had to go back home with their animals at the end of the day.
Golam Mostafa, officer-in-charge of Kushtia Model Police Station, said many people gathered at the market. “It’s really hard to maintain proper physical distancing in a market like this,” said the OC adding, “We’re trying our best to keep people safe. “
According to sources at the upazila administration, around 30 people are getting infected with coronavirus in the upazila on average every day while the number of infected people was recorded 36 on Monday last.
They said around a thousand people have been infected with the deadly virus while 19 died in the upazila so far.
At this critical stage of coronavirus infection, locals alleged, allowing such a market to be set up here is really a matter of concern.
But the cattle traders are more concerned about the sale of their sacrificial animals than the Covid-19 safety restrictions as they fear whether they will be able to get back the money they invested in cattle rearing.
Meanwhile, Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Minister Md Tajul Islam on July 13 urged people to use online platforms for selling and buying animals to contain the spread of the virus.
He discouraged people to gather at sacrificial animal markets amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Health experts have expressed apprehension that Covid-19 infection rate may take an upward trend sharply after the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha as several crore people will directly get engaged in sacrificing over one crore animals across the country.
To check the transmission of the coronavirus, they urged the government to promote a system where the animals are sold, bought and slaughtered, and the meat is distributed under a single system in a particular area like union, village or ward for reducing engagement of people.
Alongside the promotion of online cattle markets, the experts stressed the need for following health guidelines while buying and selling animals in traditional markets, slaughtering them and distribution of their meat.unb