Rajshai: 77 deaths in two months in cold wave
by Sumon Corraya

Local Caritas distributed 1,800 blankets to those most in need. Thousands of children hospitalized for frost-related pneumonia. In January, although it is the coldest month, there is usually an average temperature of 26 degrees, with drops as low as 12 degrees at night.




Rajshai (AsiaNews) - At least 77 people have died as a result of a cold snap in Bangladesh, where persistent temperatures below 10 degrees are considered particularly cold and abnormal.

In the past 24 hours, 3,173 people have been hospitalized for respiratory system infections, pneumonia and diarrhea. Local Caritas has been active in bringing aid to those most in need.

According to local media in the past two months at least 364,654 people have fallen ill with flu across the country, with children and the elderly among the hardest hit.

Medical experts explain that blood circulation decreases in freezing weather, and weak people get sick when they have difficulty regulating their body temperature. 

Children, whose numbers among hospitalizations are worryingly increasing, are more likely to develop colds and pneumonia. According to Dr. Mozammel Haque, professor of the Pediatric Department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib University, children between the ages of two months and two years suffer mainly from viral bronchitis.

It is in this context that Caritas Bangladesh has taken action to help with blankets children, the elderly, pregnant women, widows, and the poor in vulnerable conditions. 

David Hembrom, regional director of Caritas Rajshahi, told AsiaNews that they distributed 1,800 blankets, "Because of the cold wave, children and the elderly are getting sick. They need support."

Other Caritas Bangladesh volunteers added that 3,500 blankets have been distributed in Rajshahi and Dinajpur areas. The government and other local NGOs are also trying to bring relief to the people.

A moderate cold wave is currently sweeping over Rajshahi, Pabna, Dinajpur, Panchagarh, Nilphamari, Jashore, Chuadanga and Kushtia districts and the situation may continue, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department said yesterday. 

Temperatures between 8 and 10 degrees are considered a mild cold wave, those between 6 and 8 degrees a moderate cold wave and those below 6 degrees a severe cold wave.

The lowest temperature in the country was recorded yesterday in Jashore with 9 degrees Celsius. In January, although it is the coldest month, there is usually an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, with drops as low as 12 degrees Celsius at night.

The marginalized people of Bangladesh dread the winter season because of the difficulties associated with going to work. Winter in the country lasts almost three months, but due to climate change it is getting more intense.