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Quick and solid planning is vital to stop Delta variant spread

Published : Tuesday, 15 June, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1217

Quick and solid planning is vital to stop Delta variant spread

Quick and solid planning is vital to stop Delta variant spread

The COVID-19 pandemic situation in Bangladesh is worsening again in recent days with the arrival of Delta (Indian) variant. Especially the situation of the border districts is horrible. Despite several predictions, the spread of this particular variant could not be contained and this variant can spread throughout the country, particularly Dhaka. We already know how this variant caused massacre inside our largest neighbor India. Even then, we failed to stop its entry. Now, it requires specific plans and measures to prevent this third wave of COVID-19 pandemic and the government needs to act fast to fight the Delta variant in Bangladesh from this moment onwards.

Bangladesh is in the middle of another deadly surge of Covid-19. 3,050 people were newly infected and 54 people died from COVID-19 yesterday. Border districts are experiencing up to 66% detection rate. Bangladesh recorded the first COVID-19 death on Mar 18 last year, 10 days after the detection of the first cases. The outbreak eased gradually and the number of deaths in daily count dropped to as low as five in the beginning of March this year. Then came the second wave, setting new records in death counts. A study revealed that the more contagious and deadly coronavirus variant called Beta, first detected in South Africa, dominated the cases from March by replacing the Alpha variant first found in Britain.

During the second wave, Bangladesh saw 67% spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in the week from Mar 7 to Mar 13.After the government enforced a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, the number of new coronavirus cases dropped again, by 25%, over the week to Apr 24.The government also shut its borders with India to prevent infections with the Delta variant found in that country, but about 80% of the coronavirus samples tested since mid-May have matched the strain. IEDCR believes that there has already been community transmission of the Delta variant in Bangladesh.

Two challenges now face the country- the first is to protect Bangladeshi citizens from the imminent risk of spreading a highly contagious Delta variant. The second is to flatten the infection rate to zero. Unfortunately, the health authorities have been incapable to produce any theoretical forecasts or models for the clampdown of the infection, nor any road map for frontward improvement.

The pandemic has taught us two lessons. First, the importance of a robust healthcare system, and second, the significance of making the right decisions. If the government can make correct decisions and intervene quickly, it can halt the outbreak even with a relatively weak healthcare system. If Bangladesh can learn from its experiences, it can overcome the challenges of blocking the Delta variant.

On several occasions, we have reiterated that COVID-19 and its different variants did not enter Bangladesh unnoticed. However, we failed to take proper measures. This time also, with the heavy threats of the Delta variant, we made the similar mistakes. We could not properly control the borders of India. Even few COVID-19 infected patients, who returned from India and were taking treatment at hospital, were able to flee and spread the virus among others.

Everyday hundreds of trucks and other vehicles entered Bangladesh for business purposes. But we allowed the drivers and other workers with those vehicles to enter Bangladesh without maintaining any safety protocols. Prolonged but useless lockdown with everything open has made the people reluctant too. Lack of proper awareness campaign is another reason of people's reluctance.

As the Delta variant is already causing havoc in the border districts, it is now important to stop the nationwide spread of the deadly virus and for that, we need to protect Dhaka first. Dhaka, being the capital city of Bangladesh, is the economic and administrative hub of the country. Hence, the city was the top-affected by COVID-19 from the very beginning and the whole economy of the country was under threat. Due to several reasons like; continuous lockdown of some form, COVID-19 vaccination and little awareness from the people, the capital recovered from the heavy threats of the pandemic. But this third wave can again make it vulnerable.

Though the local administration of the border districts has imposed strict lockdowns in their own districts, the inter-district vehicles are entering Dhaka everyday including those from the heavily infected districts. People from those districts are entering in heavy numbers in Dhaka. This must be stopped. The government should immediately stop the entry of public transports from those districts in Dhaka. Vehicles that enter for business reasons, must maintain all sorts of safety protocols. Dhaka should be locked for those districts. Micro approach should be adopted to contain the spread of Delta variant in different parts of Bangladesh.

Many people including COVID-19 patients come to Dhaka and other major divisional headquarters for treatment. We need to arrange treatment for those especially COVID-19 patients at their own locations. If required, special teams of doctors along with medical facilities will be sent to those areas like China did immediately after the COVID-19 attack. Everyday, we are having 2-3 thousand identified new patients right now. Doctors and medical facilities should be arranged for this number at different locations if we have a concrete plan.

There are different opinions about the arrival of COVID19 like; it mutated in animal body or resulted from environmental pollution or resulted from the rage of God due to the ongoing oppression over the weak and different sorts of corruptions or it was invented in the lab intentionally. Whatever the case is COVID-19 is a calamity for everyone. Hence, the vaccine should be for everyone. The vaccine politics and business should be avoided at least for COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine producing countries are currently holding this deadly virus in their labs and as long as those remain, the threat of COVID-19 will also remain and it might even be used as a biological weapon sometimes. The vaccine producers should immediately share the patent to every country to enable them to produce the vaccine on their own soil so that the whole world can cure together.

Everyday we are receiving news of vaccines coming from here and there to Bangladesh. But the vaccination drive is not satisfactory at all. We will need at least 3 years to vaccinate majority of our population. Moreover, the effective duration of these vaccines is not over 1 year and hence, those who took vaccines will require vaccine again soon. Hence, rather than collecting vaccines from here and there, we need to strengthen our diplomatic efforts to collect patent from vaccine producing countries so that our pharmaceutical companies can produce enough vaccines at home.

Moreover, if we remain dependent on others, we will have to give in to their terms and conditions, which will not be good for our future. Hence, we should also increase our effort to produce the vaccine of our own with so many capable pharmaceutical companies of ours. Additionally, the government needs to focus on stockpiling medical grade oxygen along with collection of COVID-19 vaccine.

Another concern in Bangladesh is the attitude of those who received COVID-19 vaccine. They are moving around without any safety protocols as they feel to be immune from COVID-19. But the vaccines do not fully guarantee immunity for COVID-19 infection. Moreover, these people can be carrier of the deadly virus due to their reluctant attitude. Moreover, new variants of COVID-19 can form if they again get infected. Hence, the government should run an awareness campaign to alert them for being reluctant along with countywide mass awareness campaign on COVID-19 safety guidelines.

From all aspects, the upcoming days seems to be very dark. Our negligence has pushed us towards heavy troubles in the past and the future should not be the same. The government needs to do everything to stop the spread of Delta variant as well as future new variants. We hope our reluctance will not be the cause the elimination of our development and progress. We wish to return to our normal lives soon like many countries already did.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela

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