Saturday, 29 January, 2022

New Covid danger on the horizon

Just when normalcy was returning after a prolonged closure and restrictions on public mobility, a new Covid-19 variant has started posing serious threat to global health and economies once again. Named as Omicron, first detected in South Africa, the new Covid variant carries a “very high risk because of its unprecedented number of spike mutations”, according to the World Health Organization.

Omicron is spreading fast across the globe and one after another countries are raising their guards and imposing travel bans. Since there are large numbers of expatriate Bangladeshis in South Africa, we are certainly in the danger zone of catching the virus pretty soon. Therefore, we must take all out precautionary measures right now to stop the new variant from entering the country.

The memory of how Covid-19 sneaked in and spread all over the country is still afresh in our mind. It mainly happened because of lack of proper institutional quarantine facility and the authorities’ miscalculated move to keep in-bound people in “home quarantine”. It let the virus easily flow in through the airports and spread all over the country, infecting 1,576,011 people and claiming 27,980 lives till Monday.

So, if we have learned anything from handling the coronavirus pandemic in the last one and a half years, we must not lag behind in imposing foreign travel ban, conducting airport screening and keeping in-bound passengers in institutional quarantine facility.

But it is disheartening that people are still flying in freely from South Africa and other countries where Omicron has been detected. And the administration did nothing but putting red flags on the houses of the returnees from infected countries. This is certainly not the way to tackle a highly infectious and dangerous disease like Covid-19, if past experience is anything to go by.

The country cannot afford to get caught into another public health crisis and another round of lockdowns. But if we cannot effectively stop the new variant from entering the country, that nightmarish experience may return. In a word, the pandemic is not over. The danger may be rising once again. So, we must all raise our guards before it is too late.