Monday, February 17, 2020 | ePaper

Dhaka plans travel ban

All airports alerted: No case detected yet

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Md Joynal Abedin Khan with  Reza  Mahmud :
The government has put the airports on high alert to prevent possible spread of coronavirus in Bangladesh.
Health Directorate has already set up thermal scanners at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Air Port (HSIA) in Dhaka and Shah Amanat Airport in Chattogram and Osmani Airport in Sylhet to screen travellers from China and some neighboring countries.
Screening of travelers at land and sea entry points was also ordered, officials said.
"Screening of passengers arriving on flights from China across airports is on. So far we have screened 1,783 passengers from China using two thermal scanners at Dhaka. But, no case of the virus has been detected yet in Bangladesh," Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR) Director Dr Meerjadi Sabrina Flora disclosed the information while talking to reporters in Dhaka on Sunday.
She said: "It usually takes upto 14 days for symptoms to appear. So far we have received information regarding nine people who could have displayed signs of the virus. Samples from two of them are currently being examined, but initial reports suggest there is still no detection of the virus."
Dr Meerjadi also said that a control room would be set up soon for tackling the coronavirus originating from China.
Center for Disease Control Line Director, Directorate of Health Services, Dr Sanya Tahmina said, "We are screening passengers coming in from China, or people who had recently travelled to the region, for signs or symptoms of the virus."
She said Kurmitola General Hospital, and Infectious Diseases Hospital were being prepared to tackle cases of the virus should they be detected.
The symptoms of coronavirus infection include cold, fever, coughing, runny nose, pain in throat, and difficulty with breathing.
"Coronavirus mostly hits the respiratory tract and   the immune systems, Dr Meerjadi Sabrina Flora said, adding, "There is no vaccine for coronavirus. To help prevent a coronavirus infection, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold."
She further said, "You could get lab tests, including nose and throat cultures and blood work, to find out whether your cold was caused by a coronavirus, but there's no reason to. The test results wouldn't change how you treat your symptoms, which naturally go away at quarantine (particular space for the suspect) for few days.  
"The travellers from China will have to fill health cards with certain information," said AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, a Director at HSIA in Dhaka.
He said if any traveller is found with temperature higher than 100 degrees, he or she will be kept in an observation room at the airport. In case of suspicion, the traveller will be shifted to the Kurmitola General Hospital if necessary, he said.
"The airport authorities were also displaying common symptoms of coronavirus infection on digital boards to raise awareness," Ahsan said.
When contacted Health Secretary Md. Asadul Islam, told The New Nation on Sunday evening, "Two teams of doctors are working for screening coronavirus at two airports in Dhaka and Chattogram."
He cited every medical team comprised with seven to eight doctors is capable to identify coronavirus infected patients. The Civil Surgeon level doctors and Medical Officers have been deployed at the airports to identify coronavirus infected passengers from abroad.
"If anyone identified with coronavirus passengers, the team will send them for necessary emergency treatment at quarantine," the secretary said.
When contacted, Dr Mozaherul Huq, World Health Organisation's (WHO) former Adviser to South and Southeast Asia, told The New Nation, "There are no specific symptom of coronavirus infection. But anyone infected by it, and then he showed symptoms of cold, fever or allergy. Only proper medical test can identify the coronovirus," he said.
Meanwhile, the government is mulling to impose a temporary ban on travelling to and from China amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque came up with the comment after a meeting at the Health Ministry on Sunday
He said the ban proposal would be discussed with priority at an inter-ministerial meeting on Tuesday.
As of Sunday, more than 2,000 people around the world were found infected with coronavirus, most of them in China where 56 people have already died from the disease until now.

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