Winter wreaks havoc on public life

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The parky weather, caused by a mild cold wave, is largely affecting the children, elderly and people from low-income groups

Winter, after it arrived last week, is continuing to wreck havoc on public life around the country, with hospitals witnessing a surge of patients suffering from different cold-related diseases and thick fog disrupting all kinds of communication.

The parky weather, caused by a mild cold wave, is largely affecting the children, elderly and people from low-income groups.

This year’s lowest temperature was recorded on Wednesday after the mercury plummeted to 6.2 degrees Celsius in Panchagarh in the morning, forcing many to remain indoors. 

The Met Office on Wednesday also forecasted that the mild cold wave currently sweeping over different regions of the country may continue for several more days. 

It said that light rain is also likely to occur in various areas of country between on Thursday and tomorrow. 

The Met Office added that night temperature may rise slightly over the southern part of Bangladesh and it may remain nearly unchanged elsewhere over the country. Day temperature may also fall slightly over the country. 

Cold-related diseases on the rise 

Until on Wednesday, hospitals across Dhaka and outer districts witnessed a huge influx of patients as cold-related ailments continued to take a toll on the general people. 

Patients with respiratory diseases and diarrhoea were common forms of such illness, said health professionals. 

In the last 24 hours, a total of 5,945 patients visited public hospitals across the country due to different cold-related diseases, according to data released by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) control room on Wednesday. 

Among them, 967 received treatment for acute respiratory infection; 2,059 for diarrhoea; and 2,919 for other diseases that include jaundice, inflammation in the eye, skin diseases and fever. 

However, no deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. 

The highest number of patients — 1,668 — treated at government hospitals were in Chittagong division; followed by 1,662 in Khulna; 843 in Dhaka; 531 in Mymensingh; 323 in Barisal; 320 in Rangpur; 314 in Rajshahi; and 284 patients in Sylhet.

According to DGHS, a total of 264,602 patients, including 106,816 suffering from diarrhoea and 42,612 from acute respiratory infection, visited hospitals between November 1 and December 24. 

DGHS also said that at least 49 people also died from cold-related diseases across the country during that period.  

Flights diverted 

Meanwhile, dense fog forced the authorities at Dhaka’s Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport suspend flight operations for about five and a half hours on Wednesday. 

Airport officials said they had to suspend operation from 1:30am due to dense fog. 

Because of low visibility, they said, flights of Gulf Air and Biman Bangladesh Airlines were diverted to Kolkata, while four other flights were diverted to Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong.

“Poor runway visibility had forced the diversion of four Dhaka-bound international flights to Shah Amanat International Airport on Wednesday morning,” said the airport’s Air Traffic Officer Kazi Khairul Kabir.

“Later, all four diverted flights landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport between 9:30am and 10:00am.” 

Railway suffers massive delay 

Each of the trains from Dhaka to the country’s western region was delayed on Wednesday by four to six hours due to heavy fog on the railway tracks. However, eastern zone did not face such hazard. 

According to railway officials, Rangpur Express left Dhaka’s Kamalapur Station at 2:40pm instead of its scheduled departure at 9am; while Nilsagar Express left at 11:45am instead of 8:10am. 

Dhumketu Express left Dhaka at 8:15pm instead of its scheduled departure at 6pm; while Silk City left at 3:50pm instead of 2:40pm. 

Rajshahi Express was supposed to depart at 12:20pm, but it was also delayed to 4:20pm.

Muniruzzaman Munir, train assistant at the Train’s Office in Kamalapur Station, said the trains to western zone had been facing delay everyday over the past week because of dense fog on the tracks.

Senior railways officials have directed the loco masters to operate train under restricted speed if visibility is not clear within 200 yards for safety, he added. 

Ferry services halted for hours 

Several hundred of vehicles carrying thousands of passengers were left stranded at different ferry routes around the country on Wednesday, due to severe disruption in ferry services caused by dense fog and poor navigability. 

Ferry services on Paturia-Daulatdia route on Padma River were suspended for over 10 hours since 10pm Tuesday, confirmed Khandaker Tanvir Hossain, assistant general manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) at Paturia terminal. 

He said the services were suspended Tuesday night to avoid accident due to dense fog and poor navigability. The service resumed at 9:30am on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, ferry services at Shimulia-Kathalbari route were suspended for nine hours since 11pm Tuesday — leaving about 200 vehicles stranded on both sides of Padma River. 

The service resumed at 8am on Wednesday, confirmed Abdul Alim Mia, BIWTC manager at Kathalbari terminal.  

Additional reporting by Staff Reporter Anwar Hussain, Chittagong, Motiur Rahman, Manikganj and Monjur Hossain, Madaripur.