Tackling coronavirus outbreak: Has the government given up?

The additional director general assured that the information given through the press release would not be tampered. But no explanation was given as to why the decision was taken or whether it was inevitable. Therefore, it raises several questions. With that comes the question of whether this small but important decision carries any indication. Are the DGHS and the government considering the overall situation of COVID-19 infection across the country as ‘New Normal’ and thinking that there is nothing much to be done from their end?

We found no visible activities by the DGHS as to what it exactly means to deal with a pandemic. People have lost confidence in the hospital due to the scandal of fraud and irregularities in the COVID-19 test and mismanagement and chaos in the overall medical system. It has been reported that 77 per cent of the beds in dedicated COVID-19 hospitals are empty.

On the other hand, there has been relaxation in COVID-19 tests. Arrangements have been made to reduce the number of tests. This has been done in various ways such as not collecting samples from anyone except for a person having four symptoms of coronavirus, charging fees for testing, reducing the number of daily samples collected at the sample collection centres and so on.

Now there are a total of 87 public and private test centres across the country. Considering the total capacity of these, it is possible to complete more than 20,000 tests every day. But only 12,000 to 15,000 tests have been conducted daily for last few days. At a time when the number of test centres was even lower, the number of tests exceeded 16,000 in 24 hours.

During the Eid-ul-Azha holiday, it came down to seven thousand. After that it has increased again to 15 thousand. But surprisingly, five months after the first COVID-19 infection in the country, no testing centres have been opened in 42 districts. Various media have been reporting about the matter for at least one and half a months.

During this period, the number of infections and deaths outside Dhaka has increased a lot and according to various non-government sources, the transmission spread among many people in many district towns. But the actual picture of the infection is not available as there are no testing centres in those areas or not enough tests are being done.

On the other hand, there is no lockdown in the cluster areas, which were once declared as red zones. In fact, people are no longer adhering to social and physical distances. In all cases, the government is not playing a visible role anywhere.

The DDGHS’ coronavius-related activities are practically limited to conducting daily tests and identifying infections and reporting deaths through press releases.

So the question arises as to what policy the government has actually adopted to deal with COVID-19 pandemic.

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