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Health guidelines being ignored in Bangladesh

  • Mohammad Al Amin
  • 21 September, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Health guidelines being ignored in Bangladesh

With the decline in coronavirus cases, health guidelines are being widely ignored across the country including in Dhaka --- raising the fear of a third wave of the pandemic in the country.

Health experts said the government should strictly enforce the relevant laws and even force people to ensure compliance with the health guidelines.

Visiting different areas in the capital on Monday, people were seen moving outside, riding passenger buses, visiting shopping malls and markets without wearing face masks or maintaining physical distancing and hardly washing hands or using sanitiser. A large number of people are not maintaining hygiene practices even in hospitals and offices in the capital and others parts of the country. The scenario in rural areas is worse in terms of following the health guidelines.

Bangladesh has almost overcome the second wave of coronavirus as both the fatalities and cases are on the decline for the last few weeks after a rising trend for around three months.

As per the government’s health guidelines, people have to wear face masks, wash hands frequently with water and soap or use sanitiser, maintain physical distance in public places and follow the coughing and sneezing etiquette to prevent coronavirus transmission.

Bangladesh put Covid-19 on its list of communicable diseases in March 2020 through issuing a gazette, in line with the Communicable Diseases (Prevention, Control and Eradication) Act 2018.

The country's maiden cases were reported on March 8 last year and the first death from the virus was reported on March 18, the same year.

“If people don’t follow the health guidelines, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, the third wave of coronavirus infection may strike the country,” Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director-general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun. 

Talking about people’s apathy to maintaining health protocols, Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, underscored the need for social awareness and enforcing laws strictly to ensure that people use masks and follow other health guidelines.

“Awareness will have to be raised massively across the country to ensure the use of masks. Involvement of local government units, social organisations and volunteers will have to be ensured to create awareness,” he said.

During the previous countrywide lockdown, the law enforcers were seen strictly monitoring the adherence to health guidelines with mobile courts imposing fines on the violators of the government’s guidelines.

However, the monitoring has weakened simultaneously with the fall in coronavirus cases and fatalities in the country.

“Strict monitoring is essential to ensure adherence to health guidelines. The government should take measures to make wearing masks mandatory for all citizens,” Prof Dr Kanak Kanti Barua, former Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) told the Daily Sun.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), “If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!”

The WHO also urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks and practise other safety measures as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads rapidly.

“Maintaining the overall health guidelines, particularly wearing the face mask is a must prevent the deadly coronavirus. If the tendency of wearing the face mask is fading out, the catastrophic situation may return in the country,” public health expert Dr Be-nazir Ahmed told the Daily Sun.

 “The government can take measures so that one can enter the urban areas without wearing facemasks. Strict monitoring and supervision are needed so that people are following the health guidelines,” Be-nazir Ahmed added.