Amid the presence of the Delta or Indian variant of coronavirus in Bangladesh, the districts along the border with India have been identified as riskiest areas for virus transmission as those have been reporting a surge in new cases for the last two weeks.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths has increased in the bordering districts in recent days and this may affect the entire country if strict restrictions are not imposed on the areas.“Over 30 districts of the country have been identified as riskiest areas due to high transmission of coronavirus. We’ve already recommended enforcing a special lockdown in the border districts,” Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told the Daily Sun on Wednesday.
Mentioning that they have already confirmed 23 local cases of the Indian variant in the country, she said the community transmission of the strain has happened in Bangladesh.
After analysing the Covid-19 information, the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 has said it has found that the country’s overall Covid-19 situation has deteriorated as high transmission of virus has been detected in border districts -- Chapainawabganj, Natore, Rajshahi and Naogaon of Rajshahi division and Satkhira, Jashore, Khulna and Bagerhat of Khulna division.
“The high transmission of coronavirus has been seen in some other districts too. Besides, the community transmission of the Indian variant of the virus has been found in the country. Despite all-out efforts, it may be a big challenge for the health department to ensure treatment if the coronavirus transmission happens on a large scale,” said a press release of the committee on Tuesday night.
The national committee came up with the statement following its 37th meeting held on May 31 virtually with its President Prof Dr Mohammad Shahidullah in the chair.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, Health Services Division Secretary Md Lokman Hossain Miah and DGHS Director General Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam were, among others, connected to the meeting.The national committee also advised the government to impose lockdown on border districts as those are now at risk of high transmission of coronavirus. It also suggested enforcing regional lockdown in areas with high infections.
The committee advised that ‘stay-at-home’ directive be issued for people except those involved in emergency services, strict surveillance be ensured to stop intrusion in the border districts and inter-district transport services be suspended in areas with high transmissions and border districts.
The committee members also emphasised on coordination between the health department, and the public administration and police administration to ensure implementation of health guidelines at the district level.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) weekly epidemiological update on Covid-19 for week 21, all the divisions except Dhaka experienced an increment of weekly new cases with the highest increase observed in Rajshahi division with 95.1 per cent (1,481 this week and 759 in the week before) followed by Mymensingh division with 57.6 per cent (320 and 203 respectively).
Dhaka division reported the highest number of new cases (3,787) with a decrease of 11.6 per cent of weekly cases and Barishal division reported the lowest number (246) of new cases, it added.
According to the update, the average number of Covid-19 weekly active cases increased by 3.7 per cent compared to the last week (47,248 and 45,569 respectively) while the weekly recovery decreased by 6.4 per cent (8,108 in the current week and 8,661 in the week before).
Earlier, the DGHS suggested imposing strict lockdown on seven more border districts of Bangladesh to prevent the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19 as the government enforced strict restrictions in Chapainawabganj where the Indian variant was spiking alarmingly.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque on May 31 expressed grave concern over the rising trend of coronavirus in the seven border districts --- Naogaon, Natore, Satkhira, Jashore, Rajshahi, Kushtia and Khulna.
Meanwhile, strict restrictions have been imposed on Khulna city for one week from tomorrow in order to check the spread of coronavirus.
Mayor of Khulna City Corporation and Chairman of the corona prevention committee Talukder Abdul Khaleque said there is no need to declare lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus in the district but there will be restrictions.
A seven-day special lockdown has been announced in Naogaon municipality and Niamatpur upazila of the district starting from today due to a rise in coronavirus infections.
Border areas of Satkhira district have been put on high alert considering the coronavirus situation in neighbouring India.
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel have been asked to stay vigilant along the border to prevent the entry of people from India without mandatory health checks.
Four wards under Ukhiya's Rajapalang union in Cox's Bazar, the areas mostly inhabited by Rohingya refugees, have been declared as 'red zones' to prevent the spread of coronavirus.