The government’s mishandling of the pandemic and people’s disregard for health safety have resulted in the spike of new coronavirus cases, health experts said.
“Since March, the government’s decisions remained mostly on paper and many public health issues were largely ignored,” said Prof Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of disease control at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The government seems to care only about the business owners, he said, referring to this week’s bus fare hike.
“Neither the government nor the owners did anything to teach transport workers how they could maintain their own health safety and that of the commuters,” he said.
The Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) in its daily online briefing yesterday reported 2,695 new cases and 37 deaths.
This takes the total confirmed cases to 55,140 and reported deaths to 746.
Officials said 470 people recovered from Covid-19 in the 24 hours preceding the briefing yesterday afternoon.
According to official data, at least 11,590 patients recovered from the disease since the country reported the first three coronavirus cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18.
“Be it testing, contact tracing, enforcing or lifting restrictions, the response is riddled with missteps,” Be-Nazir told the Daily Star.
“Lockdown has been eased before the government ensured an environment where people maintain the minimum level of hygiene,” he said.
The government has made it compulsory to wear face masks outdoors. “But before this, people should have been motivated enough to wear masks.”
The government also failed to engage elected representatives in motivating and persuading people to follow the rules, he added.
The daily numbers would not have spiked if the councilors of Dhaka city’s 127 wards monitored public movement and restricted unnecessary gatherings, he said.
President of Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council Prof Md Shahidullah said people’s lack of awareness was a major cause for the spread of the outbreak.
“We see people on the streets not following any coronavirus rules. This has a cumulative impact on the outbreak,” he said, adding that the mass travelling before and after the Eid was another reason why the cases surged.
He is a member of the national committee formed by the government in April to monitor the coronavirus response.
At yesterday’s briefing, Prof Nasima Sultana, additional director general at the DGHS, urged people to wear masks at public places.
“Wearing a mask and regularly washing your hands will reduce the risks of infection,” she said.
There is no evidence supporting that the novel coronavirus spreads from a dead body, she said.
“The novel coronavirus can live up to three to four hours in a human body after death. And it usually takes over four hours to complete the burial.
“Besides public graveyards, you can bury the bodies at family graveyards too. But the body must be wrapped in bags or polythene and personal hygiene should be ensured,” she added.
She urged people to hold funerals as per their religion.
Of those reported dead yesterday, 28 were males and nine females. The largest number of victims were from Dhaka division, followed by Chattogram.
One of them was aged between 21 and 30, three between 31 and 40, five between 41 and 50, 12 between 51 and 60, 12 others between 61 and 70 and four between 71 and 80.