From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) industry has suffered through multiple economic shocks and continues to do as new variants keep emerging. Amidst this chaos workers must continue their daily work unless nationwide lockdowns are imposed again. Neither can the workers choose to stop working as for majority it is their sole livelihood, nor can the factories stop production as they have demands to meet.
Now as cases of the new COVID-19 variant, “Omicron”, is being detected in Bangladesh, the RMG industry is again at risk of an economic shock. Hence, in recognition of the turbulent scenario at hand, Sarathi, a project mutually funded by MetLife Foundation and Swisscontact, distributed 5000 “COVID-19 Safety Packages” during December 2021 in their targeted locations (Narayanganj, Savar, Gazipur and Chattogram). Each package included a washable face mask, detergent, antiseptic soap, and hand sanitiser.
With support from Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the distribution began on 13 December 2021. Mr. Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, Vice President of BKMEA was present alongside Sarathi and BKMEA representatives during the distribution at Fatullah Apparels. Once the RMG workers and staff members gathered to collect the packages, Mr. Ehsan delivered a heartwarming speech highlighting his concern about their safety, importance of maintaining the safety practices, and how support from projects like Sarathi is making a positive impact during this time of peril.
Despite there being numerous cases of fully vaccinated people affected by COVID-19, majority people seem to have noticeably stopped following the COVID-19 safety practices post-vaccination. Moreover, the received vaccines were not specifically created for the new variants and the impact is yet to be known. Hence, these distributed safety packages are going to serve as a reminder to continue the necessary safety protocols.