Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the administration to prepare to face the field-level situation if a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hits the country this coming winter – alongside a surge in cold-related illnesses.
Expressing concern over the reluctance of people to use masks, she has also directed all concerned to take measures to ensure the broader use of masks to protect citizens from contracting Covid-19.
The prime minister gave the directives while presiding over a Cabinet meeting held virtually on Monday. She joined the meeting through a videoconference call from her official residence Ganabhaban while other cabinet members participated from the Secretariat.
"Today, a long discussion was held on Covid-19. The prime minister has given us instructions to prepare for how to face the field-level situation if a second wave [of Covid-19] comes," said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at a press briefing after the meeting.
The prime minister's directives came as Covid-19 has resurfaced in many countries, particularly cold ones. Local experts have also suggested that there be preparations to fight the pandemic in the upcoming winter, he said.
"We have to remain alert and aware using the experience that we have already gathered. If so, it will be easier for us to face the situation in case of a second wave," Anwarul quoted the prime minister as saying.
Sheikh Hasina said, "Though it [the second wave of Covid-19] is an uncertain matter, there should be preparations to tackle it."
Anwarul said the Cabinet Division had already convened a meeting for Tuesday (September 22) to discuss the Covid-19 preparations.
Additionally, the prime minister asked for precautionary measures to be taken and preparations made to provide timely healthcare services as many people may suffer from cold-related diseases like pneumonia, influenza or fever with the arrival of winter at the end of October or mid-November, he said.
The prime minister expressed concern that if masks are not widely used, it will be difficult to contain the pandemic. Experts have said that the use of masks can protect people from Covid-19 infections in 95-98% of cases.
The cabinet secretary asked the media to motivate people to use masks.
An instruction has already been given to the religious affairs ministry to ask imams (clerics) of the country's mosques to announce, during Zuhr or Maghrib prayers, that the use of masks is mandatory for all, he added.
Also, on Sunday, the prime minister asked everyone to prepare to fight the Covid-19 pandemic this upcoming winter, expressing apprehension that the situation might deteriorate.
Cabinet clears law for country's fifth medical university
The country's fifth medical university to be named after the prime minister is going to be set up in Khulna. It is aimed at expanding developed healthcare services and creating possibilities for higher education and research in the medical field.
The cabinet, on Monday, gave its final approval for the draft of the Sheikh Hasina Medical University Khulna Act 2020.
"The cabinet today gave its final nod to the draft to establish the medical university in Khulna division," the cabinet secretary told the briefing.
Anwarul said the cabinet had also given its final approval for the draft of the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation Order 1973 (Amendment 2020); brought mainly to make the existing law a well-timed one after making some amendments to it.
He said the cabinet had approved the Medical Degrees (Repeal) Act 2020 as the existing Medical Degrees Act 1916 was ineffective because all its provisions had been incorporated into the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council Act 2010.
The cabinet also approved, in principle, two separate proposals for a joint declaration regarding establishing diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the Commonwealth of Dominica, a mountainous Caribbean island nation, and Saints Kitts and Nevis, an island country in the West Indies.