Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said 1.5 crore vaccines of Pfizer, Sinopharm and Seram will arrive in the country in August amid the high prevalence of the ongoing coronavirus.
"In the next one to one and a half months, Bangladesh will have 1.5-1.75 crore vaccines. Some more vaccines are expected in August. The government is communicating to bring these vaccines to the country in time," he said.
The health minister was speaking to journalists while visiting Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Convention Centre on Saturday afternoon to transform it into a field hospital.
He said, "We have already received 1 lakh Pfizer vaccines through Covax, a platform to ensure coronavirus vaccination in all countries of the world on a fair basis. They will send us another 60 lakh vaccines next month. Last Friday, the World Health Organization wrote a letter to the government confirming that the vaccine would arrive in Bangladesh in early August."
Expressing hope that a large consignment of vaccines will arrive from China, Zahid Maleque said, "We are going to get another 50 lakh vaccines from China. It will arrive in the country at the end of this month or in the first week of August. Earlier, we received 11 lakh vaccines from China. The inoculation of those vaccines is underway."
Besides, 10 lakh Seram vaccines are expected to be received from the US by August. Bangladesh may get even a bigger amount, he said, adding the government is working on it.
Mentioning that there was a crisis of vaccination in the country but it is slowly being eradicated, the health minister said the problem of vaccination has been solved and, in the meantime, 46 lakh vaccines have arrived in the country.
"With that, we have been able to start vaccination activities again. After that, if the vaccine is received in time, the vaccination activities will not have to be suspended," he added.
BSMMU's Convention Center turns field hospital
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the government had decided to convert the BSMMU convention centre in the capital into a 1,000-bed field hospital to alleviate a bed crisis.
While inspecting the convention centre, Zahid Maleque said senior officials of the health ministry on Friday inspected for all day long to find out where field hospitals could be set up in the capital.
"In the meantime, we have decided to turn this convention centre into a 1000-bed field hospital initially. Later, 200 seats will be increased here," he added.
"I believe that the hospital will be built as the best Covid-dedicated hospital in Bangladesh. This is a five-star standard building. There are all kinds of facilities like to make it a hospital. It will work if we can ensure oxygen supply here. We are working on that," said the health minister.
"We will endeavour to launch this field hospital as soon as possible by ensuring all the facilities of a full-fledged hospital. There are plans to set up more than four hundred ICUs at the field hospital. And more than four hundred bed ICU equivalent SDUs will be set up. The rest of the beds will also have oxygen facilities."
Stating that the pressure of patients has increased all over the country, the health minister said now the pressure has increased at hospitals in the capital due to the influx of patients outside Dhaka.
Especially in Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Rangpur and other divisions, the pressure of coronavirus patients has increased. He also said that instructions have been given to increase the number of new coronavirus hospitals at the district level.
"We can't turn the whole country into hospitals. Also, we will not get places to set up hospitals everywhere. So not only beds have to be made, manpower has to be recruited," he added.
The health minister said arrangements have been made to recruit 4,000 new doctors and 4,000 nurses in the last few days. In all, about 50,000 new people are working to fight the coronavirus.