'However, there can be no deficiency in our morale, preparedness, and caution'
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Director-General Prof Abul Kalam Azad has issued an apology and retracted a comment on the Covid-19 pandemic after it stirred up social media and also drew flak from the government.
The DGHS DG said he did not get the chance to properly examine and verify the script for Thursday’s daily news bulletin when the comment in question was made.
On Thursday, the DGHS chief had said “coronavirus may be with us for two to three years,” leading to panic and anger on social media. Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has called the comment “irresponsible and disappointing” at a time when the government was doing its best to keep public morale high.
In the apology, the DG said that what he had meant to convey, when he delivered the erroneous statement, was that he hoped the pandemic would end soon but there can be a deficiency in our caution.
Quoting the World Health organization, the statement added that people will need to adapt to the conditions and create a “new normal.”
Prior to the apology, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader had said: “In this sensitive time, it is inappropriate for someone in a position of such authority to make any irresponsible comments.”
Quader also urged health services officials not to make “uncoordinated and unsolicited” statements.
Health experts on social media also criticized the comment made by the DG, saying it lacked a scientific basis.
On Thursday, Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh had crossed the 100,000-mark with 3,803 new cases being detected. DGHS DG Abul Kalam Azad had said: “The Covid-19 situation will not change in one, two or three months. As per experts’ opinion, it will sustain for the next two or three years or more in Bangladesh, though the severity of infections may decrease.”
He also said that the rate of infection may decrease over the coming weeks, but that does not mean the number of infections will be decreasing.
On Friday, Bangladesh registered 3,243 new cases to take the overall number of infections in the country to 105,535. A total of 45 new deaths took the overall death toll to 1,388.