Coronavirus: Lack of awareness may spell a disaster

Although the number of coronavirus-infected patients is on gradual rise in Bangladesh, people, including those are returning from different virus-hit countries, are not aware about the preventive measures.

There is a tendency among them to breach the home-quarantine rules which could have a serious consequence as the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has already confirmed the local transmission.

In many places, overseas returnees were seen roaming freely instead of following the 14-day compulsory quarantine rule.

IEDCR briefing

Bangladesh on Tuesday confirmed the detection of two more coronavirus patients, taking the total number of cases to 10.

At a regular press briefing, IEDCR Director Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora said both new patients were male and one of them was in quarantine.

These are imported cases, she said.

“One of them is from Italy who was quarantined and another is from the US who was hospitalised earlier with coronavirus symptoms," said Prof Flora.

Prof Flora said through contact tracing, family members and those who were around the latter patient will be identified and quarantined.

She said so far 277 people have been tested for coronavirus and 43 are in institutional quarantine and 16 are in isolation.

"Within the last 24 hours, IEDCR hotlines received 4,205 calls. Of these, 4,164 were related to coronavirus," she added.

When talking about the effectiveness of home quarantine of the expatriates to contain the disease, the IEDCR director said they have been following the WHO procedures. "Our mobile teams are monitoring home-quarantined people across the country with the help of local administrations," she said.

She also assured that the government is taking necessary steps to ensure proper treatment for everyone if the situation worsens. "Within Dhaka, ICUs and hospitals are being prepared for Covid-19 treatment...150 ICUs are currently ready," said Dr Flora.

She said IEDCR is capable to test a large number of people for coronavirus infection.

"We’re reiterating that IEDCR is capable of carrying out tests on 1,000 people a day to identify the infected...We’ve ensured that the supply of testing kits remain uninterrupted," she added.

Dr Flora said IEDCR will ensure institutional quarantine for those incapable of staying quarantined at home.

She noted that the IEDCR is working to identify any sign of community transmission of the disease.

"We’ve been testing atypical pneumonia cases as the symptoms have similarities with Covid-19...if necessary, specialist from abroad can be called," she said.

Dr Flora requested everyone who has symptoms like coughing and sneezing not to use public transports.

Global updates

Italy recorded 349 deaths in the last 24 hours as the global death toll from the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic climbed to 7,332 on Tuesday.

The disease has so far infected 185,461people around the world, according to worldometer.

Of them, 98,194 are currently being treated and 6,184 (or 6 percent) of them are in serious or critical condition.

COVID-19 is affecting 162 countries and territories around the world and one international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harboured in Yokohama, Japan).

The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic.

Forced quarantines

In Habiganj, stopping his post-wedding ceremony, the local administration on Tuesday put a France-returnee bridegroom and his family members in home-quarantine at Korab village in Lakhai upazila for defying government instructions.

Sanchita Karmakar, upazila nirbahi officer, said Masuk returned from France on March 11. As per the government instructions, he was supposed to be on 14-day quarantine mandatorily.

Without informing the administration, he, however, married a girl from Jurunda village in the same upazila on Monday and arranged the post-wedding ceremony at his house on Tuesday.

On information, a team of the upazila administration went to his house and stopped the programme.

They also asked the family members, including the bridegroom and the bride, to be in quarantine till March 26.

In Rangpur, the divisional commissioner of Rangpur has gone into self-quarantine as precautionary measures after he had returned home from the USA early Monday.

Besides, another person with high body temperature has been quarantined in Pirgachha upazila, taking the number of quarantined people in the district to six.

Hiron Kumar Roy, district civil surgeon, said Divisional Commissioner KM Tariqul Islam returned home early Monday and quarantined himself in a room at the Rangpur Circuit House.

Contacted, KM Tariqul told UNB over phone that he was quarantined as per directives from authorities concerned.

Rangpur Deputy Commissioner Asib Ahsan described the step as an instance of awareness for all.

On information that a youth has coronavirus symptoms in Pirgachha upazila, health workers took him to the isolation unit of Upazila Health Complex on Monday, said resident medical officer of the hospital Dr Sanwar Hossain.

Although he was suffering from high fever on Monday, his body temperature was found normal on Tuesday, the physician said, adding that they released the youth asking him to maintain a 14-day home-quarantine.

Divisional Health Director Amin Ahmed Khan said a total of 68 people were quarantined in six districts of the division till Tuesday noon.

In Cumilla, a total of 174 returnees from different countries have been kept in quarantine in different upazilas, said civil surgeon Dr Niatuzzaman.

In Kishoreganj, a total of 138 people have been kept in home quarantine, said civil surgeon Dr M Mujibur Rahman.

In Naogaon, a total of 88 people are in quarantine in the district, said civil surgeon Dr Akhteruzzaman.

In Barishal, a young man -- Rasel, 28, son of Masud Mollah -- hailing from Bhola was admitted to Barishal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital with symptoms of coronavirus.

The young man was admitted to corona unit of the hospital around 3:15pm, said Dr Md Bakir Hossain, director of the hospital.

Breaching of quarantine rules at district level

In Manikganj, two overseas returnees-- one from Iraq and another from Australia -were fined by mobile courts in Saturia and Ghior upazilas of the district for breaching rules of home quarantine.

On Sunday, a Saudi Arabia returnee was also fined for violating rules of home quarantine in Saturia upazila.

In Bogura, locals confined an Italy-returnee youth, who fled Ashkona Hajj Camp during his quarantine period, and his family to their house at Uttar Chelopara in the district town on Tuesday amid growing fear about the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Parimal Kumar, councillor of Bogura municipality, said Masud, 30, son of Hashem Uddin, was put in quarantine at the Hajj Camp but he fled the camp.

Hearing the news, locals gathered in front of his house.

The councillor said he talked to Masud and his family members from outside the house and asked them to stay indoors for 14 days.

Masud’s father said his son is not infected with coronavirus and local people are torturing them by confining them to the house.

Civil surgeon Dr Gausul Azam said a medical team has been sent to the spot.

Islamic Foundation’s instruction

The Islamic Foundation has advised overseas returnees, persons suffering from fever, cough and cold and coronavirus-like symptoms, to avoid going to mosques and public gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus.

It also requested khatibs and imams of mosques to offer special doa for all so that they to stay safe amid coronavirus pandemic and discuss the coronavirus issue with utmost importance during ‘khutba’ of Jum’a prayers.

DNCC Handwash programme

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) on Tuesday launched a hand wash programme at 25 points of the city, aiming to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Sending back of two foreigners

Bangladesh has sent back two foreign nationals from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) as it suspended on-arrival visas from Sunday midnight due to global outbreak of coronavirus.

Stranded Bangladeshis returning

A total of 417 stranded Bangladeshis, including eight infants, arrived at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport from Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah by a special flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines on Tuesday afternoon.

Sources at the airport said almost all the passengers went to the KSA to perform Umrah. They were stranded in Saudi Arabia as the country suspended air communication with different countries, including Bangladesh, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Source: United News of Bangladesh