Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said they want to see Dhaka-Sylhet multilane and modern highway operational by 2023 which will remain fit for vehicular movement at least for 50 years.
He said the design of the four-lane highway will soon be finalized with some changes to turn the planned highway a modern one making it cost-effective with less journey-time.
“Once the design is done quickly, tender will be floated following approval of the new design,” Dr Momen told reporters after an opinion exchange meeting at State guesthouse Padma.
The impasse over financing of the expansion of 214-kilometre Dhaka-Sylhet Highway into four lanes ended as the Asian Development Bank agreed to fund the project.
“ADB funding is ready,” said the Foreign Minister adding that all relevant MPs have shared their ideas in the meeting.
He also said, “They’re (MPs) very accommodative, it is very good. All of them want quick implementation of the project.”
The Foreign Minister said the entire Sylhet region would be benefited on tourism and industrial fronts once the highway project is implemented which will ultimately contribute to the national economy.
The Foreign Minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her desire that all highways will be eight-lane in the future.
Urging all not to pay heed to rumors of question paper leak, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Wednesday said there will be no incident of question paper leak this year in the upcoming Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examinations like the previous year .
“The government has taken necessary steps to prevent question paper leak and all necessary preparation were taken to hold the SSC and its equivalent examinations scheduled to be held on February 3 across the country,” she said.
The Education Minister was talking to reporters after attending the course-concluding parade of the 54th batch of Bangladesh Marine Academy.
She expressed hope that this year the examinations will be held in a beautiful and copying-free environment.
It is not possible to build a developed Bangladesh with the traditional education system and that’s why the government has a taken special measures to promote technical education for building a society enriched with world-class knowledge and skills, she said.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Deputy Education Minister Barrister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Naoufel and secretary of the Shipping Ministry Abdus Samad were present there.
Harsh Vardhan Shringla took over charge as the Foreign Secretary of India on Wednesday.
Before his present assignment, Shringla was the Indian Ambassador to the USA, according to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Shringla, a career diplomat and a member of the Indian Foreign Service since 1984, also served as Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh.
In the course of a diplomatic career spanning over 35 years, he has held a variety of positions in New Delhi and abroad.
He has served Ambassador of India to the United States of America, Kingdom of Thailand and as High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh. He has also served in France (UNESCO); USA (UN, New York); Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City); Israel and South Africa (Durban).
Shringla has served in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi as Joint Secretary (Director General) responsible for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and the Maldives.
As the novel coronavirus spreads and claims more lives, misinformation about its origin and scale is gaining traction on the web.
There have been more than 100 confirmed deaths and 4,500 cases in China.
But lack of transparency from the Chinese authorities has led to the rise of numerous conspiracies since the outbreak. Some claim that bat soup was the source of the virus, while made more preposterous claims that the outbreak was planned and some suggest that the virus was leaked from a Chinese biological weapon programme.
But based on official research, the virus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, reports BBC.
‘Coronavirus from bat soup’
There have been online speculations about the origin of coronavirus. The situation was aggravated amid the outbreak when videos purportedly showing the Chinese people eating bats circulated online.
When one such video, showing a smiling Chinese woman, holding a cooked bat resurfaced, many outraged users blamed the eating habits of the Chinese for the outbreak.
But it turned out that the video was shot in 2016 in Palau.
Although recent researches from China have named bats as a possible source of the virus, bat soup is not particularly commonplace in the country.
As the US reported its first case of the coronavirus, several patent documents started to circulate on Twitter and Facebook that at first glance appear to suggest that experts have been aware of the virus for years.
One of the first users to float these allegations was conspiracy theorist and YouTuber Jordan Sather.
In a lengthy thread that has been retweeted thousands of times, he shared a link to a 2015 patent filed by the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, England, that talks about developing a weakened version of coronavirus for potential use as a vaccine to prevent or treat respiratory diseases.
The same link has also been widely circulated on Facebook, mainly in conspiracy and anti-vaccination groups.
Another claim that has gone viral suggests the virus was part of China's "covert biological weapons programme" and may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Many who have been supporting the theory cite two widely-shared Washington Times articles which quote a former Israeli military intelligence officer.
But the articles provide no evidence and quote the source as saying that "so far there isn't evidence or indication" to suggest there was a leak.
The articles have so far been posted to hundreds of different social accounts to a potential audience of millions.
Another wild theory linked the virus to the suspension of a researcher at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory.
Virologist Dr Xiangguo Qiu, her husband and some of her students from China were removed from the lab following a possible "policy breach," according to a report by Canada's national broadcaster CBC last year.
Police told CBC that there was "no threat to public safety".
Another report said Dr Qiu had visited the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences twice a year for two years.
A tweet with thousands of likes and retweets claimed that Dr Qiu and her husband were a "spy team", who had sent "pathogens to the Wuhan facility", and that her husband "specialised in coronavirus research".
But no evidence was offered to support the claims.
CBC has reported that these claims are baseless.
The ‘video of Wuhan nurse’
Meanwhile, a video of a woman who has been speculated to be either a ‘doctor’ or a ‘nurse’ in Hubei, has racked up millions of views on social media. In one of the versions of the video, the uploader claims that she is a nurse at Wuhan hospital but she makes no claim herself in the clip.
The woman, who does not identify herself, is wearing protective suit in an unknown location but her suit and mask do not match the ones worn by medical staff in Hubei.
She makes a number of unsubstantiated claims about the virus, making it unlikely for her to be a nurse or a paramedic, according to the BBC report.
She claims that the actual number of people infected in China is 90,000. But officials have so far confirmed more than 4,500 infections. She also claims the virus has a "second mutation", which can infect up to 14 people.
"She doesn't sound like someone from [a] medical professional background," Muyi Xiao, a Wuhan native and the visuals editor for the ChinaFile online magazine, told the BBC.
"… No one knows the truth," Badiucao, a Chinese political activist currently based in Australia, told the BBC. "No transparency [has] just left people guessing and panicking."
Boosting efforts to fight pneumonia could avert nearly 140,000 child deaths from pneumonia and other major diseases in Bangladesh, according to a new analysis.
Forecasts show that over 100,000 children under the age of five could die from pneumonia over the next decade in Bangladesh, on current trends, said Unicef on Wednesday.
However, an estimated 48,000 of these deaths could be averted by significantly scaling up services to prevent and treat pneumonia, it said.
The modelling by Johns Hopkins University is being released as nine leading health and children’s agencies host the world’s first global conference on childhood pneumonia in Barcelona.
Researchers also found boosting pneumonia services will create an additional ‘ripple effect’, preventing almost 92,000 extra child deaths from other major childhood diseases at the same time.
Interventions like improving nutrition, increasing vaccine coverage or boosting breastfeeding rates -- key measures that reduce the risk of children dying from pneumonia -- would also stop thousands of child deaths from diseases like diarrhoea (25,000) and sepsis (33,000).
By 2030, that effect will be so large that pneumonia interventions alone will avert almost 140,000 predicted under-five child deaths in Bangladesh from all causes combined, researchers said.
Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi, and leaves children fighting for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.
The disease is a leading killer of children in Bangladesh, causing 13 percent of under-five deaths.
Most pneumonia deaths can be prevented with vaccines, and easily treated with low-cost antibiotics.
But very few one-year-olds in Bangladesh are unvaccinated, and more than half of children suffering from pneumonia symptoms do not get access to medical treatment.
Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive of Save the Children, said the number of lives that could be saved is potentially far higher as the modelling did not take account of factors like availability of medical oxygen, or action to reduce levels of air pollution, a major risk factor for pneumonia.
“These results show what is possible. It would be morally indefensible to stand and allow millions of children continue to die for want of vaccines, affordable antibiotics and routine oxygen treatment.”
Tomoo Hozumi, Representative of UNICEF, said the poorest and most deprived children in Bangladesh are most at risk of pneumonia deaths.
Hozumi said children from the poorest households are half as likely to seek care and twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday as compared to children from the richest households.
“The progress to stop children dying from pneumonia is not fast enough and not fair enough. A multisectoral approach and coordinated plan is required in the areas of health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and air-pollution. Unicef, together with Save the Children and other partners, supports the government of Bangladesh in efforts to combat childhood pneumonia.”
On January 29-31, nine leading health and children’s organisations -- ISGlobal, Save the Children, Unicef, Every Breath Counts, ”la Caixa” Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, Unitaid and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance -- are hosting world leaders at the Global Forum on Childhood Pneumonia in Barcelona, the first international conference on childhood pneumonia.