Covid-19-induced lockdown is melting in Bangladesh: how to justify?
Background: COVID-19-induced lockdown or 'home stay' has been in place most of the countries in the world. Bangladesh also tried to follow the same strategy since March till end of May. Identification of positive cases around the country has been very critical to follow the transmission of infection as well as to provide treatment of patients. Based on the facts of COVID-19 related to transmission, most countries have seen already a decline of positive cases, which actually gave a green signal for the country how to ease the lock-down.
Unfortunately, due to limited resources, coverage of most areas in the country has not been possible and because of this, BD would not see likely the flatten transmission curve (Fig1). This is a BIG limitation, however, BD needs to use whatever the data generated, and should look at from a different angle. We need to look for a best possible exit plan before opening the country.
Need a team-work?
Prime Minster of BD has urged people to work together to overcome this current crisis. Any decision is taken in coming days everybody needs to stick to the plan. In order to work together 3-groups of people need to be in the same page.
1. Prime Minister group
2. COVID-19 monitoring committee and
3. Rest of the people
Saving country economy and saving people's life:
It is time to lay out plan, what should be the best strategy against COVID-19 pandemic in BD and how to relax the lock-down. Instead of unleash the whole country at the same time, it is much needed help/cooperation from the people and the executive offices towards partial opening. Unfortunately, BD does not have any data that supports opening the country from June 1. Below in Fig-2, clearly shows an escalation of percent of new cases from March to May even under lock-down conditions. Obviously, the lock-down has not been very successful since people in several locations did not follow the guidelines which perhaps contributed to the rising of new cases.
What is alarming is that percent of increase of positive cases from a given number of total tests/day. These values actually do not depend on the total testing numbers, perhaps more on the viral transmission. Thus, if the country cannot wait another 2 weeks, there must be rigorous plans how people will start their work in the offices, and how the public transportation will be served to the people without exposing mass population to the infection. The following simple plans could be considered for a short-term basis. Plans could be initially focused on major cities and later spread at the district level. Restriction must be in place against intercity commuters.
1. Priority should be given to essential public or private offices to open first and only allow 20% worker to begin work in the first phase (30DAYS)
2. Small or large business should open only alternative days to reduce the excessive load on public transportation
3. Every individual must wear face-mask and all offices and business centers must keep hand-disinfectant solution
4. Schools/Universities remain closed in the phase1 opening
5. Working hours could be reasonably flexible and may be extended from early morning to night to make several shifting
6. Finding a suitable antibody detection kit to test people for serum antibodies, start with the recovered patients. Finally to cover mass population.
Dr Jubayer Rahman writes from