• Saturday, May 08, 2021
  • Last Update : 04:28 pm

Is it the right time for another lockdown?

  • Published at 11:50 pm March 21st, 2021
coronavirus - mugda general hospital
As Bangladesh is reporting a spike in coronavirus cases in the last few days, people are seen waiting in long lines to test for Covid-19. The photo was taken from Mugda General Hospital on Sunday, March 21, 2021 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

22 deaths were recorded on Sunday, taking the death toll from the pandemic in the country to 8,690

Covid-19 transmission is escalating in Bangladesh and healthcare experts have urged the government to take immediate measures to curb the surge before it gets out of control.

The country recorded 2,172 new cases between Saturday and Sunday morning, a giant leap from the 1,868 cases recorded on Saturday, and the 1,159 last Sunday.

Furthermore, 22 deaths were recorded Sunday, taking the death toll from the pandemic in the country to 8,690.

Although the country has been experiencing the sudden surge of Covid-19 since early March, health authorities said they have yet to take a decision on imposing fresh lockdowns.

Healthcare officials and experts blame the surge in Covid-19 cases on people's reluctance to follow health safety guidelines.

On Saturday, the seven-day moving average for Covid deaths in Bangladesh rose above 20 for the first time since January 13. It remained steady at 20.71.

As recently as March 11, the seven-day moving average was still below 10. It has doubled in 10 days.

Eminent virologist Dr Nazrul Islam, vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, disagreed with the imposition of more lockdowns as they had proved completely ineffective in the country.

“The zonal approaches of lockdown at East Raza Bazar and Wari last year left us with bitter experiences,” he said.

“Imposing a lockdown is a foreign practice. We would never be able to implement it due to the suffering of our own people,” he said. “Rather the country can implement a local style of lockdown.”

Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee, said the imposition of restrictions on movement may still be a good idea considering the recent surge in cases. 

“It will decrease movement after evening and proper monitoring could ensure wearing of masks by everyone. For the time being, following the health rules at offices and homes is a must,” he said.

 ‘Zone-based lockdown a must’

Public Health expert Prof Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director (disease control) of DGHS, said: “Lockdown is not the absolute solution for us, but the way young people are getting infected this time we might be forced to go for lockdown as there would be no space at the hospitals. The government must be desperate to stop the spread of the virus.”

He suggested stopping all public gatherings, regardless of whether they are for social or commercial reasons.

The book fair should be stopped immediately and all tourist spots should also be strictly monitored, if possible, he added. 

“A partial, zone-based lockdown that would force very few people to be locked in with restrictions on movement should be the main task right now,” he said. “Besides, we need to ensure institutional quarantine and isolation on a priority basis, as our experiences say that isolation at home is not possible.

Also Read - Health Service Secy: No decision for general holiday yet

'Rallies, religious programs banned in Chittagong'

The Chittagong's district administration yesterday imposed a ban on holding rallies and mass gatherings, including religious programs, to contain further transmission of Covid-19.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Md Mominur Rahman issued the directive in a monthly meeting at the Chittagong Circuit House on Sunday afternoon, as the daily Covid-19 infection rate continues to float above 10%.

No more than 100 people will be allowed to gather at any social or political program in clubs, community centres, convention halls, hotels or restaurants, said a press release issued in this regard.

“We are seeing a sudden surge in infection because people aren’t following the health guidelines,” the DC said, adding that people must maintain at least one-metre distance from each other at programs held on a limited scale.

Despite the sudden surge of Covid 19 cases in March, the health authorities have said that they are yet to get a directive over imposing another round of general holiday, but it remains a possibility considering the current situation.

Secretary of the Health Service Division under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) Abdul Mannan made the statement in response to a question on whether the government was planning to announce a general holiday (lockdown) from March 26 to April 4.

"There is no government directive on lockdown, but everyone must maintain health guidelines issued earlier to check Covid-19 transmission."

The DGHS has been asked to vigorously run campaigns on health guidelines, he mentioned.

On March 18, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that the decision of lockdown or general holiday is a decision made by the government, not the Health Ministry.

A recommendation from DGHS has been forwarded to the authorities concerned and they would decide what would be best for the country, Maleque added.

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