Should Bangladesh really be worried at this point?
Since December 2019, the world has observed the emergence of a previously unknown strain of coronavirus which has escalated at an unprecedented rate. A vaccine for preventing this virus is yet to be discovered, and it has become a matter of concern not only in China but also worldwide.
While coronavirus appears to be most perilous for the Chinese, it has undeniably placed its ground in 23 other countries with 132 cases identified to date.
The US confirmed six cases of this virus on Saturday.
In addition to the US, Thailand has reported 14 cases, Hong Kong eight; Taiwan, Australia, and Russia have five each; Singapore, South Korea, France, and Malaysia each have reported four; Canada three; Vietnam two; and Nepal, Cambodia, and Germany each have one.
In China, the total number of infected people reached over 9,000 as of writing.
Since researchers have suggested that a vaccine for this virus is still a ways off, it is not implausible for citizens to be panicked.
However, do people in Bangladesh necessarily need to be as concerned as they have been so far? Or could this virus really pose a threat to our country?
Having a conversation with two prominent health specialists of Bangladesh, certain crucial points could be put forward that bring about some optimism for Bangladeshis at this critical juncture.
Former Health Specialist of Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College and Hospital, Dr Mizanur Rahman, says that it is unreasonable to excessively panic solely due to the fact that, in the past, we have witnessed the advent of other viruses such as SARS and MERS, but they have rarely posed any real dangers to Bangladesh.
He also suggested that regular consumption of nutritious foods can lead to stronger immune systems, which nullifies the chances of the virus spreading within our country.
On top of that, Dr Sadia Choudhury, assistant professor of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Malaysia Sabah, suggests that weather, immunological, and environmental factors trigger a virus in a country.
Fortunately, if we consider the shifting of weather and environmental factors of our country, there is little point for Bangladeshi people to start panicking.
As suggested by Dr Mizanur, we should be meticulous about cleaning our hands as soon as we go home.
He further included that an apparent remedy would be in keeping a safe distance from any affected patients and, of course, wearing masks while outside.
Admittedly, even if no patient of coronavirus has been diagnosed so far in Bangladesh, the possibility of being affected by it cannot be brushed aside as this is rapidly spreading throughout the world.
However, it is always better to be well-equipped with resources and fight it instead of just praying that it will not come to Bangladesh. Currently, as the risk to the people of Bangladesh is relatively low, I would suggest everyone to not panic.
Be smart, be hygienic, and be aware.
To many, it may seem whimsical but those masks do help somewhat, as does washing your hands after using public transit -- and please be mindful while sneezing and coughing. It is not 100% effective, but every bit helps.
Mahde Hassan is a freelance contributor.