Thousands of people scrambled for the last train, bus, and ferry before shutting down shipping across the country.
Tens of thousands of people scrambled to take the last trains, buses and ferries out of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, before the nationwide transportation system shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
With record numbers of new cases and deaths, the Bangladeshi government ordered all offices and shops to close for eight days from 6 a.m. (00:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
The country will be virtually cut off with all international flights suspended and domestic traffic cut.
Many in the $ 20 million capital were desperately searching for any means of getting them back to their villages and towns, with taxi and bus prices rapidly rising.
Crowds surrounded the city’s main bus stops, despite most of the intercity routes stopped on April 5 after authorities imposed new restrictions.
“So there’s no way we can get them back to their homes,” said bus company manager Rakib Rahman. “But small bus drivers, cars and motorbikes are making a lot of money from this craze.”
Hamidur Rahman, a 25-year-old shopping mall worker, was unable to take the minibus from the Gabtoli bus stop home in the western Jessore district.
“A typical bus ticket to Jessore costs a maximum of 500 taka ($ 6). We have to pay 1,000 ($ 12) for a seat, ”he told AFP, after renting an entire bus with 12 other people.
Police also blocked people boarding trucks carrying some people out of the city, out of concern that crowded vehicles would easily facilitate the spread of the virus.
Most of the migrants are informal workers in shops, offices and markets in Dhaka.
Didarul Alam, a 22-year-old student and part-time tutor at elementary school, said he could not afford to stay in Dhaka.
“The students told me they didn’t need my services. Our dorm’s cooking maid has left, so I’ll be leaving, too, ”he said.
This South Asian country of 168 million people has recorded 684,756 cases and 9,739 deaths, but the number of cases per day has increased 7 times in a month.
Hospitals across Bangladesh say they are overwhelmed by new illnesses and the number of deaths daily has more than doubled.