by Mohammad Didare Alam Muhsin |
Published: 12:00 AM, July 20, 2021
People, most of whom do not wear masks, crowd on the deck of a launch in Sadarghat Terminal on Friday. – New Age / Sony Ramany
SPECIAL festivals on certain days have from time to time played an important role in human society in order to break the monotony of daily life and allow the sharing of joy and sorrow. Since last year, the joyous event of Eid has faded due to the Covid pandemic. Let alone while celebrating the festival, people struggle to save their lives. The worst thing about this pandemic is that it imposes control over social interaction. Humans are forced to live in isolation.
While humans seemed ready to contain this deadly virus in no time by inventing vaccines using the latest technology, it was constantly changing shape and presenting new challenges. The country somehow managed to push the beta version onto Eid-ul-Fitr. But this time we are facing the Delta variant, which began to rage on the eve of Eid-ul-Adha.
Since the beginning of the Covid outbreak, the original strain of the coronavirus has changed shape again and again and has become several more deadly strains that have repeatedly clouded the apparent success of the scientists in dealing with the pandemic. Noteworthy among these variants are: Alpha or UK variant, Beta or South African variant, Gamma or Brazilian variant and the latest Delta or Indian variant. Probably the Delta or Indian variant is the most dangerous version of this virus to date. Neighboring India is a vivid example of how devastating it can be. The steep increase in the number of infections and deaths from the delta variant observed there is unprecedented.
The delta variant came to Bangladesh with a kind of advance notice. When it was rampant in neighboring India, it was clearly understood that its spread to Bangladesh was only a matter of time. It was found that this variant spread within a short time after its first discovery in Bangladesh, first in the border districts of the Khulna and Rajshahi regions and then very quickly throughout the country. The rate of Covid infections and deaths soon surpassed all previous records. For the first time, the country recorded more than two hundred deaths in a row. Most worryingly, according to experts, more than half of the infected patients are from rural areas, which means that the virus has now spread beyond the city to the villages.
The question is whether we are in our planning and preparation had shortcomings. Are we on the right track to deal with the situation? It has been reported that the main reason this virus spread so quickly was its excessive transmissibility, which suddenly puts tremendous pressure on a country’s healthcare system by increasing the number of critically ill patients who need to be hospitalized. As a result, the number of general and intensive care beds allocated to Covid patients in hospitals is quickly depleted and, consequently, the number of deaths is increasing as not all patients who are hospitalized are properly cared for. Experts have also blamed village patients being hospitalized in very late and extremely critical condition to increase the number of deaths in the country. Due to the limited capacity of the country’s health system, we had to focus from the start on preventing the spread of infections. Against this background, the government has moved in the right direction, with lockdown initially at the regional level and later across the country.
We are lagging behind in that we have failed to make a large part of the population sufficiently critical to motivate, but simple preventive measure like wearing a mask. It is not easy to implement programs like lockdown in the socio-economic reality of a country like ours. The lockdown requirement would have been reduced if sufficient mask usage had been ensured across the board. We need to think more seriously about why we have not achieved the expected success in ensuring the universal use of masks. Many argue that, in addition to the governance system that we seem to still be taking lightly, this requires the involvement of the masses, including sociopolitical activists, at the local level. The same applies to repeated failures of sufficient success in lockdown attempts. As it turns out, this is largely limited to shutting down local public transport just a few days after the closure began. In many cases it will be difficult to find signs of closure in alleys other than the main street. Second, the successful implementation of the lockdown was hindered by the lack of a clear plan to support the low-income workers.
Another flaw in our willingness to deal with the situation is the inadequate or partially missing health infrastructure with general and intensive care beds for treatment of Covid patients at the district and Upazilla levels. Because of the widespread spread of the disease in rural areas, it has now become a priority. Something else is particularly important. According to experts, getting most people vaccinated quickly is imperative to prevent new variants from appearing. Unfortunately, here in this country we have been given the opportunity to prepare a foreign vaccine and we have lost that opportunity due to our numbness. Attempts are also being made to manufacture vaccines at private level in the country. Here, too, we failed to attach due importance.
After a two-week “heavy” lockdown, the government lifted the lockdown for a week in view of the upcoming Eid Festival and accompanying economic activities such as buying and selling sacrificial animals . While there was no better alternative for the government to balance life and livelihood, the current pandemic situation is not at all conducive to such a decision. It is difficult to say what effects the lifting of the lockdown will have on the Covid situation in the end. Given the plan to reinstate the oath after the oath, it is imperative for policymakers to develop a specific plan for providing financial aid or interest-free credit to people on low incomes.
Dr. Mohammad Didare Alam Muhsin is Professor and Chair of the Pharmacy Department at Jahangirnagar University.
Editor: Nurul Kabir, Edited by Chair, Editorial Board ASM Shahidullah Khan
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