Forty-seven. That’s how many days of child care Kathryn Anne Edwards’ 3-year-old son has missed in the past year. RSV, COVID-19 and two bouts of the dreaded preschool scourge of hand, foot and mouth disease struck one after another. The illnesses were so disruptive that the labor economist quit her full-time job at the Rand Corp., a think tank. She switched last month to independent contract work to give her more flexibility to care for her son and 4-month-old daughter. In the first and even second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, multi-week quarantines and isolations were common for many Americans, especially children. But nine weeks of missed child care, nearly three years in? “The rest of the world has moved on from the crisis that I’m still in,” said Edwards, who studies women’s issues. “That’s sometimes how it feels like to me.” This fall and winter have upended life for working parents of little children, who thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them. The arrival of vaccines for younger children and the end of quarantines for COVID exposure were supposed to bring relief. Instead, families were treated to what some called a “tripledemic.” Flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus cases collided, stressing children’s hospitals and threatening the already imperiled child care system. Even parents of babies with less serious cases of COVID-19 have run into 10-day isolation rules that have taxed the patience of employers. A record-high 104,000 people missed work in October because of child care problems, surpassing even early pandemic levels, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Child care-related absences fell to 59,000 in November, but numbers still surpass typical pre-pandemic levels. The instability has hurt many working parents’ finances. Most of those who missed work in October because of child care problems didn’t get paid, according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. Now, doctors are bracing for the number of sick children to rise after families gathered for the holidays. “I think we’re going to have to be ready to do it all over again,” said Dr. Eric Biondi, director of pediatric hospital medicine at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Maryland. Illnesses among teachers and children have strained a child care system that’s already short-staffed. “This is the worst year I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” said Shaunna Baillargeon, owner of Muddy Puddles Early Learning Program in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. She faces “a constant battle of staff and children being sick with a different virus every day,” with no backups if a teacher calls in sick. At the Washington, D.C., day care where Jana Williams teaches, illness has caused classroom shutdowns almost weekly since October. Her 19-month-old daughter is also enrolled there, coming down with the same viruses. “It’s stressful,” she said before Christmas, when she was home with her sick toddler. “You want to stay home and care for your child. But then it’s like, you have to get to work.” Read more: Global Covid cases near 634 million During the early months of the pandemic, women in the prime of their careers left the labor market at a rate far exceeding men. They were more likely to work in the service-oriented fields that were decimated, and they often were caring for children, Edwards said. Women have since returned to the workforce, particularly women of color, said economist Diane Swonk of professional services firm KPMG. But the participation of prime-age working women in the U.S. lags most industrialized nations, Swonk said. Advocates have long blamed the country’s lack of universal preschool and paid family leave. Finding child care and heading back to work has proved far from simple. At the pandemic’s height, more than one-third of day care jobs were lost, Edwards said. Staffing hasn’t fully recovered. As of November, the country had 8% fewer child care workers than before the pandemic, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. The strong labor market has driven up the cost to hire new workers. That means child care spots are pricey and hard to find. Even centers with openings may close when staff or kids are sick. That babies and toddlers are prone to illnesses adds to the challenge. In the wake of COVID, day cares are more anxious about accepting a snotty toddler. Isolation guidelines have hit parents of babies especially hard. While older preschoolers who have COVID-19 may return with masks after five days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children under 2 stay home for 10 days, or until they test negative twice, 48 hours apart. Read more: COVID-19: US vaccine donations to Bangladesh exceed 100 million One issue is masks aren’t recommended for the under-2 crowd. Their smaller airways mean wearing them can increase the risk of suffocation, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio. Not all centers are adhering to the CDC’s guidance. But many are following it to the letter, or even going further. When Chicago educator Tamisha Holifield and her daughter had COVID-19 in May, the toddler had to miss 15 days of child care. Bouts of colds have followed, in what Holifield described as a “constant whirlwind” of sickness that has been stressful both financially and emotionally. “It’s a major inconvenience. But I’m a single parent, so I don’t have a choice. If I drop the ball, the game is over,” Holifield said. Disruption from illness can have ripple effects on young kids. Unduly stressed parents can become a stress on the baby, which can in turn cause sleep, gastrointestinal or socialization problems, said Dr. Sherri Alderman, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. The situation has also strained employers. Brad Lukas, chief nursing officer at Corewell Health Beaumont Grosse Pointe Hospital in Michigan, has seen eight or nine nurses calling out per shift, some because of sick children. “We’re seeing a lot of people reduce their hours,” Lukas said. His own wife cut back nursing shifts so she can mostly stay home with their young children. The continued chaos for young families is isolating, especially when other Americans’ lives are back to normal, said Lauren Hipp, early learning chief at MomsRising, an advocacy organization. “I feel pretty angry about it,” said Hipp, whose own 2-, 6- and 8-year-old children have been wracked with illnesses, including RSV. “To feel like society has passed you by is a really difficult and lonely feeling.”
What happens if I get COVID-19 while traveling? Depending on your destination, it could result in an unexpected change in plans, such as being required to stay isolated in a hotel. It’s why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you have backup plans ready if you’re traveling abroad. You might have to stay longer than planned if you test positive. In some places, you won’t be able to board flights until you test negative. In others, you might also be required to stay in a quarantine facility. Since results from a PCR test can remain positive for weeks after an infection, those who have had COVID-19 might have to get documentation from a doctor or health authorities saying they’ve recovered. Some travel only requires an antigen test. Read: US official: Russia plans to annex parts of eastern Ukraine If you end up needing medical treatment, check with your embassy for suggested health care providers. Keep in mind that some countries still have overwhelmed health care systems due to the pandemic. Plan time for recovery since some countries — including the U.S. — require a negative test for reentry. Exceptions to this policy may be granted on an “extremely limited” basis, such as in the event of an emergency medical evacuation or humanitarian crisis, says the CDC. It also helps to be financially prepared to pay unexpected bills. While it varies country to country, travelers are often responsible for costs associated with any isolation or medical treatments needed. Travel companies suggest getting insurance that will cover the cost of treatment, isolation or rescheduled travel plans. Some countries require that you have insurance before you’re allowed to enter.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has shortened the isolation period for Covid-infected patients to 10 days from 14 days. “If the body temperature remains at a low level and symptoms go away, one can return to his or her respective work after 10 days,” said Dr Md Nazmul Islam, the DGHS spokesperson and Line Director (Disease Control), on Sunday at a virtual health briefing. He said the previous condition of having RT-PCR test results to return to offices and workstations in this regard would remain suspended for now. Also read: Booster doses to be available for citizens above 40: Minister Regarding the Covid surge, Dr Nazmul said, “Until December last year, the Delta variant of Covid was dominant in the country but the number of total patients and percentage of infection were low. We have seen a continuous rise in infections within a few days from the end of December to the beginning of January. So, there is no scope to take the new variant lightly.” The DGHS spokesperson said there is no room to be complacent as the number of deaths, which was three or four till December, has now increased several times to 20 or 25 deaths a day. However, the vaccination campaign has been accelerated in Bangladesh along with the increase in the infection rate. Those who have already received a message for booster dose but could not get the jab for getting infected can receive it after the six weeks of recovery, Dr Nazmul said. Also read: Covid in Bangladesh: Daily deaths sharply rise to 34 Earlier in the day, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said people above 40 years will be eligible to take Covid booster shots as the government has lowered the minimum age limit for it. “We’ve nine crores of Covid vaccine doses in hand. The government has lowered the age limit for receiving Covid booster shots to 40 from 50. Some people have taken booster shots. So, the government has decided to lower the age limit to 40,” he said.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin has tested positive for Covid-19. This is the second time that he has contracted the virus, earlier was in August 2020. The minister underwent RT-PCR test at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) on Wednesday as he had symptoms of the virus. The test result emerged positive, his Ministry said in a statement. Read: State Minister Khalid, wife contract Covid The minister is in isolation at his official residence, the Ministry said. The Environment Minister was admitted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) from August 12-20 in 2020 with Covid.
An Indian returnee, who tested positive for Covid-19, has escaped from the isolation ward of Chuadanga Sadar Hospital on Tuesday. The Covid patient has been identified as Abul Kalam Azad, 45, son of Siraj Ali of Nandani village in Bholahat upazila of Chapainawabganj district. Resident medical officer of the hospital, Dr Wahid Mahmud Robin said the patient had been undergoing treatment in the red zone of the isolation ward of the hospital since January 9. "He went missing from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon." Read: Global Covid cases surpass 333 million Kalam returned from India on January 9 through the Darshana border and tested positive for Covid-19. Later, he was taken to Chuadanga Sadar Hospital. On Tuesday morning, the hospital authorities collected his sample for retest and his results emerged negative, said Dr Wahid. "We suspect that Kalam left the hospital without informing anyone."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday explained the scientific rationale for shortening its COVID-19 isolation and quarantine recommendations, and clarified that the guidance applies to kids as well as adults. The CDC also maintained that, for people who catch COVID-19, testing is not required to emerge from five days of isolation — despite hints from other federal officials that the agency was reconsidering that. The agency announced the changes last week, halving the isolation time for Americans who catch the coronavirus and have no symptoms or only brief illnesses. Isolation should only end if a person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and if other symptoms are resolving, the CDC added. It similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine, from 10 days to five. CDC officials previously said the changes were in keeping with evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. Some experts have questioned how the new recommendations were crafted and why they were changed amid a spike in cases driven largely by the highly contagious omicron variant. Some also expressed dismay that the guidelines allowed people to leave isolation without getting tested to see if they were still infectious. Also read: Snow storms and pandemic ground flights, delay holiday's end On Tuesday, the CDC posted documents designed to address those — and other — questions about the latest recommendations. The new guidance applies to school children as well as adults, the CDC said, responding to questions raised by school leaders around the country. In laying out the scientific basis for the revisions, the agency said more than 100 studies from 17 countries indicate that most transmission happens early in an infection. The CDC acknowledged the data come from research done when delta and other pre-omicron variants were causing the most infections. But the agency also pointed to limited, early data from the U.S. and South Korea that suggests the time between exposure and the appearance of symptoms may be shorter for omicron than for earlier variants. The CDC also took up the question of why it didn’t call for a negative test before people emerge from isolation. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the White House’s top medical adviser — said the CDC was considering including the negative test as part of its guidance. Also read: FDA paves way for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations in young kids The agency said lab tests can show positive results long after someone stops being contagious, and that a negative at-home test may not necessarily indicate there is no threat. That’s why, the agency said, it was recommending that people wears masks everywhere for the five days after isolation ends. It did offer tips for those who have access to the tests and want to check themselves before leaving isolation. Dr. Eric Topol, the head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, accused the agency of furthering confusion. He agreed that it is appropriate to shorten isolation time, but only with testing. “We do need to come up with a strategy that limits isolation time, but we don’t want it to be one that’s adding to the spread of the virus and unwittingly leading to the virus circulating,” he said. Yale University’s Dr. Howard Forman said the updated recommendations were communicated poorly last week, but he also applauded the CDC for trying to be more nimble while dealing with limited science, a short supply of tests and an intensifying wave of infections. Under the previous isolation and quarantine recommendations, “it was obvious that ... society was literally going to be disrupted. If you expected people to comply with those (old) rules, you might as well have a lockdown,” said Forman, a radiologist who teaches public health policy. The agency acknowledged people weren’t following the longer recommendations: Research suggests only 25% to 30% of people were isolating for a full 10 days under the older guidance, the CDC said. The CDC also suggests that people exposed to the virus quarantine for five days, unless they have gotten booster shots or recently received their initial vaccine doses. The agency said anyone exposed — regardless of vaccination status — should get tested five days later, if possible.
U.S. health officials on Monday cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and similarly shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. The decision also was driven by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, propelled by the omicron variant. Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus. But the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say. Also read: No self-isolation in Britain for fully jabbed Bangladeshi travellers CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the country is about to see a lot of omicron cases. "Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic,” she told The Associated Press on Monday. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science." Last week, the agency loosened rules that previously called on health care workers to stay out of work for 10 days if they test positive. The new recommendations said workers could go back to work after seven days if they test negative and don’t have symptoms. And the agency said isolation time could be cut to five days, or even fewer, if there are severe staffing shortages. Now, the CDC is changing the isolation and quarantine guidance for the general public to be even less stringent. The change is aimed at people who are not experiencing symptoms. People with symptoms during isolation, or who develop symptoms during quarantine, are encouraged to stay home. The CDC’s isolation and quarantine guidance has confused the public, and the new recommendations are “happening at a time when more people are testing positive for the first time and looking for guidance,” said Lindsay Wiley, an American University public health law expert. Nevertheless, the guidance continues to be complex. ISOLATION The isolation rules are for people who are infected. They are the same for people who are unvaccinated, partly vaccinated, fully vaccinated or boosted. They say: —The clock starts the day you test positive. —An infected person should go into isolation for five days, instead of the previously recommended 10. —At the end of five days, if you have no symptoms, you can return to normal activities but must wear a mask everywhere — even at home around others — for at least five more days. —If you still have symptoms after isolating for five days, stay home until you feel better and then start your five days of wearing a mask at all times. Also read: Airlines cancel flights due to Covid staffing shortages QUARANTINE The quarantine rules are for people who were in close contact with an infected person but not infected themselves. For quarantine, the clock starts the day someone is alerted they may have been exposed to the virus. Previously, the CDC said people who were not fully vaccinated and who came in close contact with an infected person should stay home for at least 10 days. Now the agency is saying only people who got booster shots can skip quarantine if they wear masks in all settings for at least 10 days. That’s a change. Previously, people who were fully vaccinated — which the CDC has defined as having two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — could be exempt from quarantine. Now, people who got their initial shots but not boosters are in the same situation as those who are partly vaccinated or are not vaccinated at all: They can stop quarantine after five days if they wear masks in all settings for five days afterward. FIVE DAYS Suspending both isolation and quarantine after five days is not without risk. A lot of people get tested when they first feel symptoms, but many Americans get tested for others reasons, like to see if they can visit family or for work. That means a positive test result may not reveal exactly when a person was infected or give a clear picture of when they are most contagious, experts say. When people get infected, the risk of spread drops substantially after five days, but it does not disappear for everyone, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, a New York physician who is a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “If you decrease it to five days, you're still going to have a small but significant number of people who are contagious,” he said. That's why wearing masks is a critical part of the CDC guidance, Walensky said. VARYING RECOMMENDATIONS The new CDC guidance is not a mandate; it’s a recommendation to employers and state and local officials. Last week, New York state said it would expand on the CDC’s guidance for health care workers to include employees who have other critical jobs that are facing a severe staffing shortage. It’s possible other states will seek to shorten their isolation and quarantine policies, and CDC is trying to get out ahead of the shift. “It would be helpful to have uniform CDC guidance” that others could draw from, rather than a mishmash of policies, Walensky said. Given the timing with surging case counts, the update “is going to be perceived as coming in response to pressure from business interests,” Wiley said. But some experts have been calling for the change for months, because shorter isolation and quarantine periods appeared to be sufficient to slow the spread, she said. The move by CDC follows a decision last week by U.K. officials to reduce the self-isolation period for vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19.
From Monday, fully vaccinated Bangladeshi nationals will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival in the UK. This is because the British government has added Bangladesh to the list of countries with approved proof of Covid vaccination, effective October 11. "Bangladesh vaccine certification is now recognized by the British authorities. Our Mission contacted them and described our processes and now they recognize our vaccine certification," said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen. Also read: Covid: Dhaka advocates an equal shot at recovery High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem said "the decision is a reflection of warm bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UK". The decision is also a result of the High Commission’s sustained diplomatic efforts to remove the remaining obstacles to business, tourism and essential travel between the two countries, she said. "From 4am Monday (October 11), Bangladeshi nationals fully vaccinated with UK-approved vaccines will no longer require a 10-day hotel or home quarantine and a pre-departure Covid test." However, a Covid test should be taken on or before Day 2 after arrival in the UK. Also, Vaccination certificates issued by relevant Bangladesh authorities are required for all travellers as proof of inoculation status. Also read: Bangladesh calls for fair, balanced IP regime system to fight COVID The travellers who have not been fully vaccinated with a UK-authorised jab must quarantine for 10 days, either at home or where they are staying, and should undergo a Day 2 and Day 8 Covid test. On September 17, Bangladesh was removed from the UK government's travel red list, which came into effect at 4am on September 22. Bahrain Bahrain has decided to remove Bangladesh from red list countries starting from October 10, said Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen. He said everyday hundreds of Bangladeshis who returned from Bahrain ask when Bahrain would open up. "Today we have a good news."
After completion of the managed isolation and quarantine in New Zealand, the Bangladesh team will be free to move around from Wednesday, a Bangladesh Cricket Board statement reads.
As it looks unlikely that coronavirus will disappear until there is a vaccine, experts have warned that the deadly virus may hit Bangladesh even harder in the coming winter.