As Bangladesh is experiencing record-breaking Covid cases, experts think ‘health emergency’, ‘nighttime curfew’ and area-based lockdown can be the right measures to slow down the virus transmission.
They think the 18-point directive issued by the government on Monday is not enough as the coronavirus situation is going from bad to worse with both high infection and mortality rates in the country.
The experts warned that Bangladesh may experience an ‘explosive’ Covid situation in the coming months, breaking down the already overwhelmed medical system, if unnecessary public movements and mass gatherings cannot be controlled with the strict enforcement of laws.
They also suggested ramping up contact tracing, mass testing, expanding ICU capacity and ensuring necessary treatment facilities and equipment in every hospital, including upazila health complexes, since the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has identified 31 districts as risky for the virus outbreak with a high infection rate.
Directives not matching with ground realities
Public health expert MH Chowdhury (Lenin), chairman of the medicine department at Health and Hope Hospital, the government’s directives are inconsistent with the coronavirus transmission pace.
“When it’s necessary to stop all the social and political gatherings right now, it was said to be discouraged in the directives. When a nighttime curfew should be enforced from 6pm, people are only asked not to come out of their homes unnecessarily. The shopping malls should be allowed to remain open for at best six hours on a limited scale, but the government said both sellers and buyers in shopping malls must follow the health rules,” he said.
MH Chowdhury said all types of mass gatherings should be controlled strictly, but the government asked to hold public exams maintaining health hygiene rules, which is not possible.
“People are discouraged to go to tourist and recreation spots, movie houses and theatres, and all kinds of fairs. But the Ekushey Book Fair is going on in full swing,” he pointed out.
Dr Lenin said the government has instructed all to maintain health safety rules in public transport, but people do not do that for lack of monitoring. “Strong enforcement of law is necessary to force people to abide by those rules.”
Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director (disease control) of the DGHS, said, “The directives are not time-befitting and consistent with the current pandemic situation. “These instructions should have been given at least one month back when the virus cases started surging.”
Dr Be-Nazir said when elections can be held amid such a situation how the government can ask people not to arrange social programmes and mass gatherings.
Also read: Covid-19: Bangladesh’s caseload now 529,031, fatalities 7,942