Government making all-out effort to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further
Three new Covid-19 patients — one woman and two children aged below 10 — in Bangladesh were confirmed by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) on Monday, taking the total number of confirmed cases to eight.
However, the first three patients have recovered fully and been released, according to IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora.
The new patients, family members of one of the recently confirmed patients, were found infected in separate tests carried out Monday, she told a press briefing at the IEDCR office.
Dr Meerjady said these new patients got infected from their male family member who was in home quarantine. He was among the two male patients detected on March 14.
IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady said all current five confirmed patients are undergoing treatment in isolation at a hospital in Dhaka. “They have little prevalence of Covid-19. We hope all of them will get better soon.”
According to IEDCR, some 10 people are currently undergoing treatment in isolation, while four others are in under centre-based quarantine.
Meanwhile, after Monday’s cabinet meeting, the government made 14-day home quarantine mandatory for anyone arriving here from abroad.
The Foreign Ministry also said foreigners with valid visas staying in Bangladesh will have the option to extend their existing visas by three months, considering the global pandemic.
At present, many people, mostly who recently returned home from abroad and their family members, with symptoms similar to Covid-19 infection are also in isolation at different hospitals across the country. The IEDCR did not provide an actual number for them.
The Bangladesh Film Exhibitors' Association on Monday decided to close all cinema halls around the country from March 18 to April 2 in an effort to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The government also postponed the Measles-Rubella Vaccination Campaign, planned for children aged between nine months to 10 years, which was supposed to begin from Wednesday.
According to the World Health Organization’s situation report, some 145 countries have already been affected by the new coronavirus strain, leaving more than 153,500 people infected and over 5,700 dead.
However, according to worldometer, more than 175,700 people have so far been infected and over 6,700 people killed worldwide.
In another development, Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, said a total of 44 passengers including 10 Bangladeshis landed in Dhaka on Monday morning on an US-Bangla Airlines flight.
He said the other 34 passengers were Chinese nationals who completed their home quarantine period in China and had medical clearance certificates.
However, the Chinese nationals assured the authorities that they would abide the mandatory 14-day home quarantine, added Touhid.
The Covid-19 outbreak had started in China’s Wuhan city in late December last year, and then quickly spread around the world.
IEDCR to collect samples from home
IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady told Monday’s press briefing that they would no longer collect specimen at their headquarters in the capital.
She advised the people not to come to IEDCR office and asked them to call on their hotlines. “Our teams will collect samples from your [suspected patients] residences.”
“We have trained teams and the most important thing is completing testing the samples at the soonest every day,” she added.
Asked whether the returnees understood the quarantine or isolation protocols properly, she said the local government officials were asked to ensure home quarantine and they will help the people understand how the protocols work.
Responding to another question, Dr Meerjady said, through the first three cases, it was clear that local transmission of the new coronavirus strain has already been taken place in the country.
“We are doing our best to stop the virus from spreading more,” she added.
14-day home quarantine mandatory for all arrivals
After the weekly cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday, Cabinet Secretary Khandakar Anwarul Islam announced that 14-day home quarantine was made mandatory for anyone arriving from abroad.
He said there was no exemption to it and anyone who fails to follow the directive will face legal action.
He said mayors of cities, DCs, SPs and civil surgeons of districts, UNOs, and all other local government officials, alongside religious leaders were instructed to disseminate the message in their respective areas.
IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady told reporters that they asked the local administrations to fine the rule violators Tk10,000 initially, although the Communicable Diseases Prevention, Control and Eradication Law 2018 has the provision to fine violators maximum Tk25,000.
A mobile court led by the Saturia upazila nirbahi officer in Manikganj, who is in-charge of the upazila level coordination committee for enforcing home quarantine, on Monday also fined a Saudi Arabia returnee at Brammonbari village Tk10,000 for not following the home quarantine rules.