IEDCR starts releasing 316 Wuhan returnees
But worries about coronavirus still hang on
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) on Saturday started releasing 316 returnees from China's Wuhan province, who were quarantined at Ashkona Hajj camp and Combined Military Hospital for 14 days.
The releasing activities will continue till Sunday, said IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina Flora while talking to the Daily Observer over phone.
All the returnees from China's Wuhan were kept under observation since 1 February.
"We did not find any positive case after conducting coronavirus tests on Wuhan returnees. We have, so far, conducted testes on samples of 62 patients and found no CoVID-19 case. We have maintained the privacy of all the personal details of all the returnees," she said.
But still people from every corner worry about the coronavirus for a few significant reasons such as existence of large number of slums, a weak healthcare system, a million refugees and recent strong ties with China.
They expressed their worries as they think that the healthcare system of Bangladesh is pitifully ill equipped to handle a potentially dangerous outbreak which could turn into an epidemic.
Even they raised a question if a coronavirus drug is available in future, would Bangladesh government be able to afford it.
In addition, MA Faiz, professor of medicine ( retd) and former principal of Dhaka Medical College, suggested that the country's existing health service institutions,
must follow the guidance on infection prevention and control strategies issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to treat the 'suspicious cases of novel coronavirus infection' to prevent infection and control its outbreak.
The control strategies include early recognition and source control (isolating patients with suspected CoVID-19 infection), applying standard precautions for all patients, implementing additional empirical precautions (droplet and contact and, whenever applicable, airborne precautions) for suspected cases, implementing administrative controls and using environmental and engineering control.
Bangladesh being one of the most densely populated countries in the world is threatened by many things, not only how climate change impacts are driving disease and displacement.
The dense urban slums in capital Dhaka are especially vulnerable, he added.
Added to this, Bangladesh now hosts an estimated one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, most of them in the refugee camps near Cox's Bazaar.
The crowding in these camps close to the border with both India and Myanmar, means that there is a possibility of diseases spreading fast across populations and regions. The poverty and distress of the refugees leave them more vulnerable to disease as well.
All these factors combine to make Bangladesh a potential driver of new diseases, such as the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
When asked Meerjadi Sabrina Flora said if such realities pose any threat of spreading coronavirus, the government would be able to tackle those. " The government has taken all precautions to prevent such diseases,"she claimed.
"Already we have closed all the pockets of border areas and communications like sea ports, land ports with our neighbouring countries. We have also deployed a medical team to each border area," she said.
Dr Lelin Chowdhury, who is the Joint General Secretary of Poribesh Bacho Andolan (POBA, an NGO focused on environment and human health) noted that many international visitors, donors, fundraisers, and media personnel visit the camps regularly.
This opens up many possibilities for the spread of diseases.
Besides, one of most densely populated cities on earth has good reasons to worry, as it is becoming more and more closely intertwined with China" he added.
However, Chowdhury Tasneem Hasin, a nutritionist with United Hospital Ltd, referring to the current situation, noted that the city slums have very poor sanitation, which makes them fertile breeding grounds for disease vectors.
"I am really very concerned about the health issue of this community. We are advising them to wash their hands repeatedly with soap and water so that they do not get affected with diseases. But in reality they do not have sufficient water," Tasneem said.
However, amidst this crisis government on Friday has set up a digital display board at Benapole Customs and Immigration Check Post to raise awareness among passengers about novel coronavirus, named COVID-19.
The board, which displays messages about the virus, was installed at the gate of the immigration building.
Abdullah Al Mamun, medical officer of Benapole Immigration Health Centre, said it will help passengers understand whether they have any symptoms of coronovirus.
Rabidranath, an Indian passenger, said that this will help passengers to be alert about the virus.