Rise of deaths, new cases: ‘Covid-19: People gripped by fear’

Kartik Burman, 84, a resident of Narayanganj, was admitted to Mugda Medical College Hospital in the capital on 12 March after contracting corona. His other son Tito Burman is undergoing treatment here too

Kartik Burman, 84, a resident of Narayanganj, was admitted to Mugda Medical College Hospital in the capital on 12 March after contracting corona. His other son Tito Burman is undergoing treatment here too
Ashraful Alam

The coronavirus situation is worsening again as newly infected patients, infection rate and casualty are on the rise resulting in fear among the people anew.

In 24 hours, some 18,695 samples were tested and of them, 1,773 people found to be positive for coronavirus. The infection rate is about 10 per cent which was never so high in the last three months. Not only the infection rate but also the number of deaths jumped suddenly. On Monday, people came to know about the deaths of 26 people from coronavirus, which is the highest in the last two and a half-month.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) sent this new information to the media on Monday afternoon. Immediately after the news of infection was published in the media, people from all walks of life started talking about it. Whether the government will impose lockdown, whether the educational institutions will open or not, these questions were the main issues of the discussion.

After a meeting of the health ministry on Monday health minister Zahid Maleque told the reporters, the education ministry will make the final decision on reopening educational institutions. If needed, mobile courts will be conducted to ensure that the people are wearing masks.

At present, there is no visible action of the government’s health department at the field level to contain the infection. The government’s work is limited to treatment of the patient, collecting samples, testing the samples and vaccination. There is no nationwide campaign on controlling infection.

The government has instructed to control the infection and ensure treatment in the hospitals at field level. In a letter sent by the cabinet division to all the divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers on 13 March, all the people were instructed to wear masks and follow the health guidelines.

The letter said, “The recent infection rate and casualty has slightly increased compared to the last few months. It is necessary to wear masks and maintain health guidelines to reduce the infection rate.”

A civil surgeon of a district in Chattogram division told Prothom Alo, “The DGHS has instructed us about three issues. These are: the designated hospitals to be prepared for Covid-19 treatment, to launch campaigns on maintaining health guidelines and conduct mobile courts if necessary to force people to wear masks.”

In which way the situation is going

Three weeks earlier the number of the infected people, detection rate and casualty was less. However, the numbers are increasing gradually. Why?

Seeking anonymity, one of the eminent pathologists of the country told Prothom Alo that there could be two possible reasons behind this. First, the new mutant strain of coronavirus found in the UK has been detected in Bangladesh on 5 January. Nobody is sure if that virus is being transmitted. Secondly, there may also be the effect of monsoon. He said that a scientific evaluation of the situation is needed immediately.

Professor Tahmina Shirin, director of Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told Prothom Alo that the mutant strain of the UK has been detected in the samples of at least 10 persons.

According to IEDCR, that new strain was first detected among the expatriates from the UK. They have been detected in Dhaka and Sylhet. Although the expatriates from the UK are instructed to go into compulsory quarantine, there has been an allegation that not everyone is following the directives.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, microbiologist Samir Saha said it has been seen that a hide and seek is ongoing regarding the presence of this new strain of coronavirus. But the tendency of the people to avoid health guidelines is more dangerous than the presence of the mutant virus.

However, the convener of the National Advisory Committee, professor Mohammad Shahidullah blamed the reckless activities of the general people for the current situation. He told Prothom Alo, “Wearing masks, maintaining social distancing or adhering to health guidelines have lost its appeal in the last few months.”

DGHS additional director general professor Nasima Sultana, “People are crowding in the tourist spots. Numbers of social programmes, including marriage ceremonies, have increased too. These are the reasons for the increase in the infection rate.”

Till now more than 4.4 million (44,00,000) people have been administered the first dose of coronavirus vaccine. This number is not enough for the prevention of infection. Scientists and public health experts are advocating people should be inspired to avoid public gatherings and follow health guidelines.

Professor Mohammad Sahidullah said, “Exemplary punishment should be imposed if someone comes out of the house without a mask if necessary.”

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