The government has trashed allegations by some quarters regarding prior preparation to combat novel coronavirus (Covit-19), saying that it (government) acted very seriously from the very outset of this global crisis to halt the outbreak of the lethal disease in Bangladesh.
"It's not true at all that we didn't take any prior preparation to stem the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. The fact is that we took steps soon after the deadly virus first emerged in China in December last year," Director General of Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) Professor Dr Abul Kalam Azad told BSS on Thursday.
He said when the entire world is battling against coronavirus pandemic to protect the mankind from the fatal disease, Bangladesh is now on the right track to curb the outbreak of the Covid-19.
Elaborating the government's relentless strides to fight the Covid-19, the DGHS director general said: "We started screening the suspects at the airport, along with the arrangement of dedicated quarantine zones for people arriving from the affected countries since January."
Prof Azad said measures have been taken to keep all the passengers arriving from abroad from March 19 in compulsory quarantine under the army.
"Ashkona Haji Camp and Ijtema Maidan at Tongi are being run for quarantine under the supervision of the army," he said.
The top government health official said 6,66,931 overseas returnees have been brought under screening, adding that the authorities concerned are continuing screening those coming from abroad.
Prof Azad informed that the government has already stopped the on-arrival visa and asked Bangladesh missions abroad not to grant visas to any foreign national.
He said a high-powered national committee, headed by the health minister and incorporating the task forces of different compositions, was formed to tackle the different dimensions of the spread of Covid-19 and its challenges.
Apart from it, he said, committees were constituted at city corporation, municipality, district, upazila and union-levels for prevention of the disease.
"We prepared designated hospitals, and equipped our health professionals with necessary facilities," he said.
Prof Azad said the government shut down all educational institutions in the country, locked down infection-prone areas to prevent community transmission and advised the people to stay home.
He mentioned that the government also closed down all public and private offices and activities, except emergency services, to curb the spread of the virus for 14 days since the 26th March.
"We're unceasingly conducting a mass awareness campaign against the Covid-19 since January to protect our people from this lethal virus," he said.
Prof Azad said six hospitals have been prepared in Dhaka for coronavirus patients, while arrangements were underway to treat coronavirus patients in five more hospitals in the capital.
"Separate beds have been kept ready for such patients in district and upazila-level hospitals," he said.