Local administrations must assess if lockdowns are needed, says the health directorate
Covid-19 has rapidly spread to 29 districts of Bangladesh from March 1, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has said.
DGHS Additional Director General (ADG) Meerjady Sabrina Flora, in response to a query, said they noticed higher transmission of Covid-19 in six districts on March 13. Covid-19 was surging in 20 districts just a week later March 20, and in 29 districts by March 24.
“This means Covid-19 is spreading fast across the country, and there is no alternative to following health rules to break the transmission chain,” she added.
In response to a question on potential lockdowns in affected districts, DGHS Director (Disease Control) and Covid-19 media cell spokesperson Dr Nazmul Islam said: “Local administrations have previously been instructed to take any and all necessary measures to save lives. It is up to the local administrations to assess the situation and act.”
DGHS ADG Dr Flora said no lockdown has been imposed yet, and the DGHS does not have information on whether the government plans to impose lockdowns later.
Earlier in the afternoon, Health Minister Zahid Maleque during a program in Dhaka said the government has been advised to impose lockdowns in areas where the transmission rate is high.
Directions in this regard are expected in a day or two, he added.
The health minister further said the dedicated Covid-19 hospital at the Dhaka North City Corporation Market in Mohakhali would be prepared in a week.
DGHS urges public to use divisional health facilities
Dr Flora said Covid-19 hospitals in Dhaka are facing additional pressure as patients from across the country rush to the capital.
“Rushing to Dhaka only to find that hospitals are full wastes valuable time that is needed to save lives. Divisional health facilities are still unoccupied, so patients should go there first,” she added.
Regarding efforts to tackle the surge in Covid-19, the ADG said they tested the highest number (over 28,000) of suspected people in the last 24 hours.
“We are increasing our testing capacity. We also started antigen testing and very soon it will be available at upazila-level healthcare facilities, where people can avail it and get tested,” said Dr Flora.
When asked whether the UK or South Africa variant is causing the recent surge, Dr Nazmul said: “As we have very few scientists in the country, we do not have accurate information on the matter. However, regardless of the variant, the symptoms the same for each Covid-19 patient.
“We have to wear masks, maintain physical distance and follow health rules. That is the only way out for us,” he said.
Following recent upsurge of Covid-19 transmissions and fatalities in the country, the government finally imposed a fresh 18-set of restrictions, including a ban on all public gatherings in areas with high rates of infections.
In a gazette notification on Monday, it asked to limit gatherings at all tourist spots, as well as social, political, and religious events.