Fall in C-19 cases inspiring, but the Indian variant is here
For a couple of days, the country is registering lower number of average deaths and infections in a single day. It is indeed encouraging to witness this recent drop in Covid -19. On 7 May the positivity rate was 9.89 per cent with 1,682 newly infected, whereas on March 28, before lockdown, the positivity rate was 17.6 percent, with 3,908 new cases of infection. We can see the drastic change because of the ongoing 'Lockdown.'
However, relaxation of lockdown rules and re-opening of shopping malls have drawn millions of shoppers to crowd the city. Multiple media reports over the past week have detailed how health and safety rules are not being followed in well reputed organizations and shopping centres.
During the time of writing , it had been confirmed by different media sources that the Indian variant of Covid-19 has been identified here. Reportedly, the Indian variant has double mutations that would make the virus 10-20 times virulent, causing quick and severe attack or evade vaccine immunity. We are witnessing how India is battling a devastating second wave of the pandemic that has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues, and crematoriums. Meanwhile, a mad rush is being perceived in our bus, launch and ferry terminals, completely ignoring safety hygiene.
Understandably, it is not possible to close down shops, restrict public transport or shut down land and water transport terminals indefinitely. However, the people have a duty to act responsibly and stick to health and safety guidelines, and the authorities have a duty to ensure that these guidelines are being enforced. If the citizens do not follow the regulations then we may again witness the steep rise in infections and deaths.
Furthermore, the depleting stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs has thrown the countrywide vaccination programme into uncertainty. While it is heartening to know that five lakh doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccines will arrive in Dhaka on May 12, and that the government is at the final stage of signing a deal for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. However, it still does not make up for the current shortfall (over 14 lakh) of the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The "Mix and Match" of Oxford-Astrazeneca and other vaccine may turn out to be a complex option also.
The need of the hour is to sit with medical experts, doctors and DGHS officials and quick formulate a set of plans on how to deter the spreading of the Indian variant in our country. Simultaneously, shared land and airports must be temporarily sealed off, barring Indians from entering Bangladesh.