The newly-appointed director general of the health directorate, Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, has said his first priority will be to tackle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
He said this when asked whether he would first focus on tackling corruption in the health sector or handling the coronavirus crisis.
"First, we need to survive. Then, we can do something else. If we survive, we can work to eliminate corruption," Khurshid told journalists at an online press briefing on Monday.
It was his first briefing after taking office. Additional Director General (administration) of the health directorate Professor Dr Nasima Sultana and Additional Director General (development and planning) Sanya Tahmina Jhora attended the briefing.
Khurshid said he had discussed ways to provide healthcare services to flood-affected people with civil surgeons.
"Handling the pandemic and floods – these are the main tasks now. So, we will focus on these. Then, we will work on other issues," he said.
He also said any pre-pandemic plan or treatment system might change.
"We will have to proceed with the plan based on the rise or fall in infections in the country."
Khurshid said he does not know why there was lack of coordination between the Directorate General of Health Services and the Ministry of Health because he was outside the system.
"I think there will be no lack of coordination if we maintain contact and form liaisons with everyone. I will try my best to keep contact with everyone and proceed with our tasks," he said.
When asked about regaining people's trust in the health directorate, Khurshid said he wants everyone's assistance to this end.
"Let us work for a month or two before judging us. We will be able to get people to put their trust back on us if we get everyone's support."
Asked about corruption in the health directorate, the director general said he had just assumed office and thus could not make any comment.
"But we doctors have tried our level best to serve people amid the pandemic. In the initial days, people did not have any proper idea about the virus, which is why everyone was afraid. But a great extent of that fear is now gone," Khurshid said.
He said former shipping minister Shajahan Khan had contacted him on Monday morning and three people had been assigned to look into the matter of his daughter's Covid-19 test report anomaly.
On July 26, Shajahan's daughter Oaishe Khan was stopped at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport from boarding a flight to London over inconsistencies in her test report.
"We will get the report in a day. We will disclose the information if the report says there were problems in the equipment. We will certainly take action against anyone involved in this," Khurshid said.
Meanwhile, the health directorate in its daily briefing on Monday said cases are falling as people are less interested in testing, which helps keep the caseload low.
"The densely populated slums are witnessing fewer cases and we have not reached the peak yet," said Dr Nasima, referring to data from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.
She said sample collection is now available in all upazilas and districts. "We are requesting that if anyone has any symptom of Covid-19, they should come for testing."
She said many people are not coming for testing after a fee was set by the government.
"We cannot do anything about this as it is determined by the health ministry."
Another 37 die from Covid-19
There were 37 more deaths from the novel coronavirus and 2,772 new cases after testing 12,859 samples in the last 24 hours till 8am on Monday.
With this, the death toll rose to 2,965 and the number of infections stood at 226,225.
"Of the dead patients, 26 were men, and 11 women. 24 of them hailed from Dhaka, five from Chattogram, three from Rangpur, two each from Khulna and Barishal, and one from Mymensingh," Dr Nasima said.
"Thirty-three of them died in different hospitals, and four at home."
She said, "12,544 samples were collected in the last 24 hours and 12,859 were tested in 81 labs across the country. So far, 1,124,417 samples have been tested."
Besides, 1,801 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, increasing the tally of recovery to 125,683.
Monday's infection rate was 21.56 percent of the total tests, though the overall rate in the country is 20.12 percent till date. The death rate so far stands at 1.31 percent.