Covid-19 preventive measures like facemask wearing and health hygiene are also being ignored in hospitals across the country though the government has adopted a ‘no mask, no service’ policy as part of its fight against the fatal viral disease.
During a visit to some hospitals in the capital, this correspondent has found that a large number of patients, their attendants and visitors gather outpatient departments and emergency units every day without wearing masks and maintaining hygiene.The scenario is the same in many other private and public hospitals, including Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital.
“We’re implementing a ‘no mask, no entry into hospitals’ policy. The authorities concerned are strictly monitoring this,” Dr Md Farid Hossain Miah, director (Hospital) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
Health experts said in such a situation, the hospitals may turn into ‘dens’ of spreading the deadly pathogen as many people can carry the virus and may spread it in the mass gathering.
Talking to the Daily Sun, some patients and their attendants in Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital said they didn’t wear facemasks as they think the coroanvirus situation has become normal in the country.
“Many people are not wearing masks as I think coronavirus has become weak in our country,” said Rasel, a resident of Mirpur area who came along with a patient to the hospital.
It was also found though the hospitals have hanged banners making people aware about wearing masks, but there was no arrangement of washing hands outside the hospital buildings.However, the hospital authorities said they are already implementing the ‘no mask, no service’ and ‘no mask, no entry into hospitals’ policies, but sometimes people ignore the instructions and rush to hospitals without facemasks.
“We are strictly monitoring the matter of wearing masks on the hospital premises as we are also implementing the ‘no mask, no service’ and ‘no mask, no entry into hospitals’ policies. Our officials and others concerned are enforcing the policy,” Dr Md Khalilur Rahman, director of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital, told the Daily Sun.
He further said they also carry on award programmes like pasting posters and hanging banners making people aware about following the preventive measures against Covid-19, including wearing masks.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), masks should be worn as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives. ”The use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already called upon those who took the coronavirus vaccine or are planning to become inoculated to keep wearing masks to stay safe from getting infected.
“Those who are taking the vaccine will have to continue wearing masks. Health safety protocols must be followed. As long as the virus does not completely go away from the world, I call upon everyone to stay vigilant,” she said during her closing speech to the parliament's 11th session.
The prime minister also directed the authorities concerned to strictly implement the "no mask, no service" policy at all government and private offices.
The government has given directive to implement the "no mask, no service" policy in all organisations as it has been made mandatory in all institutions, markets, schools, and social and religious gatherings.
Health experts are repeatedly advising people to wear masks and maintain hygiene depicting the importance of wearing masks in staying safe from the highly contagious coronavirus.
“People have to wear masks even after getting vaccinated to prevent infection as everyone will not be vaccinated at a time. At the same time, scientists are also not sure how much protection the current vaccines can give against the Covid-19 disease,” Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told the Daily Sun.
Preventive measures such as masks will be necessary as herd immunity to the coronavirus will not be achieved in the current year even after widespread vaccination campaigns, media report said quoting World Health Organization (WHO) chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.
Prof Dr Meerjadey Sabrina Flora, additional director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said, “We have to wear masks even after the arrival of coronavirus vaccine. There is no alternative to taking preventive measures to fight against the deadly virus.”
Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, “A person may carry and spread coronavirus even after being vaccinated. So everybody has to wear masks and abide by other preventive measures even after receiving the vaccine.”