Effective and early spending to combat Covid-19 would have helped keep the pandemic in check, experts say
Effective and early spending on measures to combat transmission of Covid-19 would have helped mitigate both financial losses and loss of life caused by the pandemic in Bangladesh, experts have said.
They also called for more research on how money to combat Covid-19 was being spent in the country, as the government had allocated thousands of crores to the task and it needed to be determined whether the money was being spent effectively.
Quoting a recent study, Director of Dhaka University Institute of Health Economics Professor Syed Abdul Hamid told Dhaka Tribune that Bangladesh had lost more than Tk200,000 crore during the lockdown to prevent transmission of Covid-19, from April to May. The losses amounted to about Tk3,000 crore per day.
“If Bangladesh had spent Tk50-200 crore on preventive measures immediately, in March, it could have stopped the virus from spreading so much and maybe prevented all the financial losses as well,” he said.
The professor suggested the government adopt a Tk5 crore project to distribute reusable cloth masks in kitchen markets and at bus and launch terminals.
Calling for more research on how money to combat Covid-19 was being spent in the country, Prof Abdul Hamid said: “In order to ensure effective investment, we need research and surveillance.
Noted virologist Dr Nazrul, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, also stressed the need for research, to both track the status of the pandemic in the country and determine the effectiveness of preventive measures.
Infectious disease expert Dr Be-Naazir Ahmed said: “If the initial quarantine had been implemented properly, then people would have had more faith in the government and engaged more with future decisions.
UK flight institutional quarantine: What about expatriate Bangladeshi workers?
As a result of the new variant of Covid-19 recently discovered in the UK, the government has decided that all passengers arriving in Bangladesh on flights from the UK must go into mandatory institutional quarantine at designated hotels. The passengers will have to bear the cost of their stay at the hotels themselves.
When asked about the institutional quarantine measure, Prof Abdul Hamid wondered what would happen to expatriate Bangladeshi workers who boarded flights at transit destinations.
“It will be very difficult for expatriate Bangladeshi workers to bear the expenses of staying at a 4- or 5-star hotel in Dhaka,” he said.
Dhaka Tribune could not verify how much the institutional quarantine would cost passengers.
“The government may end up having to categorize returning passengers to determine what services they would receive on arrival and what they would need to pay for. This could make management of the institutional quarantine very difficult,” Prof Abdul Hamid added.
Dr Be-Naazir Ahmed said: “Returning passengers who are living a comparatively high standard of life will expect a high standard of services when they return.”
Asking to remain anonymous, a researcher of the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) said rt-PCR machines in the country could detect the new variant of Covid-19, but newer machines were required to differentiate between variants.