Today (June 18) we crossed a grim milestone of one lakh Covid-19 cases. What we need to do now is take necessary measures so that the caseload does not reach the mark of 2 lakh. The way fresh cases are spurting, it will not take much time to hit the level of the next one lakh cases.
Various wrong decisions – from reopening of apparel factories, markets and shopping malls to a mass exodus of people from Dhaka ahead of Eid – all contributed to worsening the situation with a sharp jump in infections. We cannot afford to make any more mistakes at this time because hospitals have already been swamped with coronavirus patients, and many are not getting treatment. We have had our back against the wall now, so there is no time to waste.
We have to quickly enforce lockdowns in red zones, flagged as risky areas based on Covid-19 infections and deaths. But what we see is a lack of coordination among government agencies. The two city corporation mayors are saying they will implement lockdowns once they get zoning maps, whereas the public administration ministry has already declared general holidays in the red zones. This incoordination is causing people to suffer, leaving them in confusion. Still, people's movement continues unabated.
The Directorate General of the Health Services is regularly giving information on the Covid-19 infections required for the area-specific mapping for lockdowns.
But why is the health directorate taking time to prepare such maps specifying the number of cases in a particular area? Are there any loopholes in their info?
Now, all the infected must be isolated in places such as schools, colleges and community centres and sent to hospitals for treatment when it is required, because both infection and mortality rates are going up with the patients staying at home. All the red zones have to be put under lockdown without making any further delay.
Testing in the red zone areas must be ramped up significantly. The infected must be isolated, and the people who came into contact with them need to be quarantined for 24 days. Treatment for the patients admitted to hospital must be ensured. We have to import nasal cannula required for ensuring a high flow of oxygen. It is also essential to increase the number of intensive care beds for patients needing critical care as the existing ones are filled with patients.
There should be enough supply of oxygen for patients so that they need not go to the intensive care units.
People's involvement is also essential to limit infections. They should be informed about the outcome from the East Rajabazar lockdown so that they do not become afraid of lockdown; instead, they should come up to help the government to contain the coronavirus spread.
Professor Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and noted virologist