Covid-19: Experts sketch of gloomier August
Ainul Haque Royal || BusinessInsider
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Covid-19 cases and deaths are rising amid the two-week-long national lockdown as Bangladesh reported 247 deaths on Monday, the highest in the country since the pandemic broke in March last year.
Experts had warned that the casualties might go up in the days to come as hundreds of thousands of people rushed to their village homes to celebrate Eid-ul Azha last week. As lockdown was withdrawn prior to Eid on July 15, citizens also visited cattle head markets to buy their sacrificial animals, possibly spreading the lethal virus.
And, now those who had gone to the village home are getting ready to come back, further spreading the virus, experts feared.
They are concerned because of people’s reluctance to wear masks and maintain lockdown rules.
Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told the Business Insider Bangladesh, that the country may see a surge in death and infection of the coronavirus by next 10 days or by the middle of August.
“The country is passing through a haphazard state. We did not see any improvement in deaths and infection rate of the coronavirus despite the strict lockdown entered its fifth day,” Nazrul Islam said.
The government is emphasising only on imposing lockdown instead of forcing people to maintain the Covid preventive rules including wearing masks and maintaining social distance, he said.
Lockdown means control of people’s movement but it is being enforced partially in the country and thus it will not bring any result in containing the transmission of the virus, he warned.
Death rate may go up when the number of new cases will increase and people will not get medical treatment as the country's hospitals are not adequately equipped to handle the situation, he said.
About the lockdown restrictions, Nazrul Islam, a former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said corruption is everywhere and the lockdown rules are being ignored due to the indulgence in corruption by a section of law enforcers.
Had there been volunteer committees across the city, law enforcers, especially police members would not have been able to seek unsolicited benefits from small businesses, like tea stalls, mobile phone top-up, vendors and others, he said.
“We all will have to work at our respective localities voluntarily to encourage people to wear masks and maintain the lockdown rules. Otherwise, we will see a devastating situation in the next 10 days,” he said.
He called upon the authorities to consider Chapainawabganj as an instance in containing the surge of the virus.
When the infection rate of the virus was 60 percent in the area, a local lawmaker came up and took a harsher step, forcing people to wear masks. The neighbourhoods and all of its people got a good result within a span of two weeks, he said.
“We went for lockdown, shutdown and lastly we enforced strict lockdown but all the efforts have been going in vain. If we had considered Chapainawabganj as a model, we would not have suffered so much,” the expert opined.
Prof Muzaherul Huq, a former adviser to the World Health Organization’s South-East Asia region and founder of the Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, told the Business Insider Bangladesh that the government has failed to ensure the lockdown’s result as the law enforcers have failed to meet the government’s desire by administering the lockdown restrictions properly.
“If we want to accomplish herd immunity immediately, we will have to go for spot registration and vaccination by forming mobile vaccination units,” he said.
of the people do not know anything about Surokkha App and thus there is no alternative but to go for the spot registration and vaccination system immediately to save people’s lives, he said.
The country will see the spike in death and infection of Covid-19 by the middle of August even if the prevailing lockdown continues, he feared.
The government will have to procure 25 crore doses of vaccine and 12.50 crore people will have to be vaccinated by June 2022 and then the country will be able to earn a herd immunity in facing the pandemic of the coronavirus, he said.
By this time, there may arise the need to take the booster doses for the first-time vaccinated people. But, it is still unclear whether the double doses of the vaccine will protect people’s lives or not, Prof Muzaherul Huq said.
He said capacity and capability of upazila level health complexes will have to be improved to lessen the burden of patients at the district sadar hospitals.
Lastly, the government will have to reshuffle the health sector across the country taking lessons from the pandemic, he said.