As the new strain of Covid, identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa, can spread more quickly, so Bangladeshi health experts have advised to suspend air connections with the countries at least for short period.
On Saturday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions because of the new strain. Several European Union countries and Canada have banned or limited flights from the UK to try to limit any spread.
Professor Dr Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and a member of National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 told The Business Standard, "This new type of virus is spreading fast, so Bangladesh should suspend flights at least with UK."
"Anyone who is not UK citizen, but has recently travelled to the country must need to bring under official quarantine," said the virologist.
Professor Dr Nazrul Islam further said, "The new strain of coronavirus is being mutated in such way that the vaccine may not work. That would be fatal. Then there will be no benefit in buying Oxford vaccine. So we have to take immediate steps to prevent the entry of this strain in our country."
"Though the new Covid strain found in the UK is not deadly, but it is more contagious. This may prolong the pandemic if spreads fast. The strain found in South Africa is slightly deadly. So it would be better to suspend flights with the countries," Professor Liaquat Ali, biomedical scientist and educationalist, told The Business Standard today.
Professor Liaquat Ali, who is also a member of the government-formed Public Health Advisors Group, further said, "If the air communication can't be suspended, flights should be observed closely. Passengers arriving from the countries must be kept on at least 3-day quarantine. None should be allowed to enter the country after showing Covid-free certificate only."
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He also emphasised on screening the passengers, and proper isolation and quarantine.
The biomedical scientist also hoped that vaccine would be effective on the new strain.
Some other Bangladeshi experts said, the virus becomes weak after mutation sometimes, but it may also become more virulent. So, the new strain should be observed more closely and carefully.
Biman managing director Md Mokabbir Hossain told TBS that they have no plan to suspend UK flight until ban comes from the government.
Health experts in the UK and US said the strain seems to infect more easily than others, but there is no evidence yet it is more deadly.
Patrick Vallance, the British government's chief scientific adviser, said that the strain "moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant," causing over 60% of infections in London by December.
The strain is also concerning because it has so many mutations — nearly two dozen — and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. That spike is what current vaccines target.