Without controlling the first wave it would be hard to identify a second wave even if it emerges
Experts in the country said the second wave of Covid-19 that seems to be emerging in near future could arrive faster than health authorities realize owing to the government’s compromised measures.
Bangladesh lifted all kinds of restrictions on August 31, imposing only personal safety measures and asked respective ministries and its wings to take necessary measures so that people remain secure during their outside activities.
Unfortunately, after that announcement, no such directives were given by any ministry.
Second wave worldwide
According to international media, several virologists are predicting that the second wave of Covid-19 has started since July.
Countries like US, UK, Spain, New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea are believed to be suffering from the second wave of the deadly disease. Italy has also been experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases after early May.
According to a recent report by euronews.com many of the countries that have experienced Covid-10 during March and April, are seeing higher case numbers in August than they did earlier in the year.
Why Bangladesh is in risk
Earlier, while talking to Dhaka Tribune Microbiology Professor Be-nazir Ahmed of the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine said before the second wave hits, it is imperative to effectively control the first wave. Otherwise it would bring about another disaster for the country.
Terming the winter season as critical for the country since that is when the second wave of Covid-19 might emerge, Professor and Head of Department of Community Medicine in Dhaka Medical College, Dr Moktel Hossain said but health authorities needed be at high alert as a strategic plan was not followed while taking initiatives to control Covid-19.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), keeps records of cold-related diseases and acute respiratory diseases for the winter season only as the problems get intense during winter (September 15 – April 15).
According to data provided by Health Emergency Operation Center and Control Room under the DGHS, the number of cases of such diseases in 2019-20 increased seven times more than 2018-19, and 5.5 times more than that of 2017-18 fiscal year, 10.2 times higher than 2016-17, and 5.87 times greater than 2015-16.
Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) cases in March this year stands at 11,930 which is 14.54 times higher than last year's number (820). In 2017-18, the number of patients with ARI was 649 while it was 1,010 in 2016-17, and only 141 in 2015-16.
It means the country has already seen higher ARI diseases in the 2019-2020 season and unfortunately the country is only in the initial month of the cycle with people seemingly relaxed over the matter.
When might the second wave hit
Criticizing the government decision of lifting the restrictions Professor Moktel Hossain said they have found that the number of patients has increased which force them to continue maintaining Covid-19 treatment facilities suspending their recent decision of returning to general hospital activities.
Several mid-level officials of the directorate said they were firstly thinking of reducing the Covid-19 dedicated hospitals, but they later decided to continue the facilities so that if a second wave happens they can tackle the emergence.
Some time in the beginning of October would reveal the real scenario, Moktel said, hoping that Bangladesh would be lucky enough to not face the second wave.
Many countries who became the biggest sufferers from Covid-19 have experienced second waves of Covid-19 after reopening all of the sectors. But many of them did not also experience the same, the professor explained.
Prof Nazrul Islam, former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said lapses in Covid-19 management made it hard to realize when the peak of Covid-19 occurred in the country. And it seems like the country may eventually fail to estimate when the second wave could emerge, he added.
The virologist said, to understand the reemergence of the virus they should bring the situation under control and lower the positivity rate to below 5%; but the current rate is near 15%.
The second wave might not seem so deadly and it could have a slow increase. So the health authorities might not identify it as a second wave and attribute the rise to not maintaining health safety advice, he explained.
Experts advice not to reopen school this year
Public health expert, Prof Moktel said as a second wave is likely till now, it would be wise not to reopen school this year.
Public gatherings in the city seem to be lower as students are at home and many of the parents are also at home who mostly accompany their children to school.
He said there is pressure from the authorities and the parents to hold final year exams of the medical students as many students will start working as doctors after passing the exam.
“We have decided to keep them in 14 days quarantine from early October and plan to take the exam in the third week of the month,” said Moktel.
Exams could be taken ensuring health safety, but taking classes would pose a risk especially at a time when the second wave has a high chance of emerging, he opined.