Dr Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), has expressed his regret over his "confusing" and "unpleasant" media statement on Thursday to the effect that the coronavirus pandemic might last two to three years or more in the country.
A press release issued by the DGHS on Friday also explained the statement of the director general.
The director general's expression of contrition and explanation came on the heels of remarks by Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader criticising his statement as "irresponsible" and "frustrating".
However, the DGHS press release said, "In the regular health bulletin of the DGHS yesterday [Thursday], confusion was created over a statement of Director General Abul Kalam Azad.
"The script of the Director General's speech was prepared quickly and he could not examine it properly as it was already time for the health bulletin. He read out the script and spoke online."
The director general later realised the statement could convey ambiguity. Therefore, the issue was clarified in the regular health bulletin sent in the form of a press release on Thursday evening, added the Friday statement.
The health bulletin issued on Thursday evening explained the director general's words, "Given the experience of different countries and observations of health scientists and public health experts around the world, the situation is not going to end in one, two or three months.
"The coronavirus will exist in countries until a successful discovery [of vaccine] and application among a sufficient population is arrived at. As a result, it can last for more than a year or even two or three years or more. However, we believe that the level of infections will be greatly reduced."
Quader lambasts health directorate DG
Meanwhile, before the director general expressed his regret over his statement, Obaidul Quader said a "short-sighted" and "ignorant" statement by a senior health official about the longevity of the virus crisis had disappointed people.
"Making an irresponsible remark at a sensitive point of time was not right for someone in a responsible position," said Quader at a virtual press briefing from his official residence in Dhaka.
Advising health officials to refrain from making such "uncoordinated" and "unwarranted" statements, the Awami League leader said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government have been working relentlessly to keep the morale of the people strong and have been instilling courage among frontline Covid-19 fighters amid the ongoing crisis.
At such a time, he said, the short-sighted and irresponsible statements of some senior officials of the health directorate are leading to frustration among the people.
About the area-based lockdown, the road transport and bridges minister said this decision should be implemented effectively and immediately once the decision oo the zone-based lockdown is finalised.
Noting that proper coordination must be ensured in enforcing an area-based lockdown, he said it would be easier to achieve goals if there is proper coordination.
He called upon all concerned to closely monitor the situation and build strong teamwork to implement the decision on a area-based lockdown.