As the UK variant of coronavirus has already been found here, Bangladesh is likely to see a further spike in infections if people do not adhere to preventive measures like wearing masks and maintaining hygiene, health experts have warned.
They said infections have already seen a rise over the last few days as people seem reluctant to abiding by the recommended health guidelines, particularly with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccine in the country.The health experts also warned that the situation might worsen as the new virus variant will spread if the preventive measures are not followed duly.
They said different other variants of the virus from other countries may also hit Bangladesh anytime.
A large number of people are nowadays frequently moving without wearing masks and maintaining hygiene. Public transport, shopping malls, kitchen markets, factories, offices, tourist spots and even hospitals are seen crowded with people having no mask.
There is also lack of action from the authorities concerned to ensure that people follow recommended health guidelines.
“Any rise and fall in coronavirus infections depend on whether people follow preventive measures or not. If people maintain hygiene and wear masks, there’ll be no spike in fresh cases,” Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told the Daily Sun.
She said the UK variant of the virus has been detected among 5-6 people in the country but they have no found the evidence of the spread of the strain after tracing contacts.According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the number of total coronavirus cases in the country has reached 553,105 as of Wednesday with an overall positivity rate of 13.18 per cent. The number of deaths from the disease caused by the virus stood at 8,496 while the mortality rate was 1.54 per cent.
The daily positivity rate and the number of cases have been on a rise every day over the last one week. The daily positivity rate has risen to 5.98 per cent in the last 24 hours till Wednesday morning, which was highest in the last 50 days.
Also on Wednesday, the number of cases jumped to 1,018, highest in two months after January 10 when 1,071 infections were detected.
The country is now in the 53rd week of its Covid-19 outbreak. The positivity rate was below 3 per cent in the 49th, 50th and 51st weeks in a row, but it rose to above 3 per cent in the 52nd week and continued to rise in the current 53rd week.
Over 4.1 million people have been inoculated against the deadly pathogen in the country as of Wednesday after the countrywide vaccination began on February 7.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said there is a possibility that coronavirus infections might see a rise in summer. “It finally may not take any serious turn as vaccination is going on and immunity is growing among people,” he said.
He, however, said there is no alternative to continuing wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing to keep the situation under control.
Asked about the new variants of coronavirus, Nazrul Islam, also former Vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said those may strike the country if proper steps are not taken.
Underscoring the need for ensuring strong screening at all ports, the virologist said proper quarantine will have to be ensured for all passengers arriving from countries, including the UK, where the new variants have been found.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque at a programme in the capital on Tuesday said the number of coronavirus infections has been on the rise as people are ignoring wearing masks and washing hands and they are not maintaining social distancing.
Speaking at the Cabinet meeting virtually on March 9, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged people to follow the health safety protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.
“Wherever we’re -- vaccinated or not, we should follow three protocols – must wear masks, maintain the highest possible caution and stay in a limited number in public places such as places of recreation or other social events,” Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam quoted the Prime Minister as saying at the meeting.
The premier reiterated her call to all, who would visit those places or go to any public gathering, to maintain the health protocols.
“We don’t think that we’re in a comfort zone. Yes, we’re in a much better position . . . it doesn’t give us the certainty that we’re in a comfort zone. So, it’s not assured that Covid-19 infections would not peak again,” she told the meeting.
Sheikh Hasina further said: “Our peak (of Covid-19 infections) was in the high summer though all of us expected it in winter. Forthcoming April, May and June will be our high summer and that is why our experts suggest we should concentrate on these months.”
“None is fully protected with a single shot of vaccine, so all are advised to wear masks even after inoculation,” she said.