BD lacks preparedness, facility to face challenges
Staff Reporter :
Bangladesh runs risk of a possible coronavirus outbreak due to lack of its preparedness and dense population, say experts.
They also said that the country lacks facility to rapidly detect and deal with any coronavirus cases that might enter its borders.
"The increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases that have spread different parts of the world, raising concern that such cases can also arise in the country though there have been no reported cases of the virus in Bangladesh till Tuesday," Dr Kabirul Bashar, who teaches Zoology at the Jahangirngar University, told The New Nation.
He said dense population has made Bangladesh vulnerable to an outbreak of the new virus if any infected person or animal enters the country. "Animals don't have borders. No one will be able to stop an infected animal from crossing the border with India. Now the date juice season is under way. The virus can transmit through bats drinking date juice," added the Epidemiologist.
Furthermore, Dr Bashar said people in our country don't maintain necessary personal and civic hygiene, which can also raise the risk of coronavirus injection.
"There are no treatment facilities of coronavirus infected patients in Kurmitola General Hospital and Infectious Diseases Hospital in Dhaka. The two hospitals have only facility to take such patients in quarantine that set up there," said Professor Dr. Muzaherul Huq, former Advisor of World Health Organisation (WHO) of South Asia.
He claimed that the thermal scanners set up in airports could detect the coronavirus infected people through screening. The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has also the facility to detect such cases.
The Professor Huq mentioned that China is also struggling to provide treatment of coronavirus infected patients, as no medicine invented yet for them.
"The government has asked all public hospitals to set up isolated units for infected patients. But, the hospitals lack of testing facility if anyone infected by coronavirus," he said.
He also said that the government should immediately develop clinical guidelines and case definitions for doctors and nurses in both the public and the private sectors to better detect, identify and respond to a possible case of coronavirus.
"The guidelines include guidance on what samples to collect to confirm the diagnosis as well as how to best manage the case clinically and to prevent spread to others," he added.
When asked, Professor Huq further said, a coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses or upper throat. Most coronaviruses are not dangerous. However, some types of them are serious.
According to the latest reports, total infections are over 4,500 in China alone, with more than 100 deaths, and about 125 people are in critical conditions. Due to contact with people from the Wuhan region and other affected areas, the virus has spread to other countries.
The countries include the United States, Canada, Australia and Vietnam. The USA and Canada have issued travel warnings over the disease. South Africa has not issued a travel warning.
As precautionary measure, Professor Huq said the passengers of flights having direct or indirect connectivity with China will be given health cards to certify that they are not infected with the deadly coronavirus.
"Health professionals should routinely conduct temperature screening and enhanced surveillance for all international travellers from Asia, especially China, at air and land ports.
Directorate of Health should activate outbreak response teams to detect and manage inadvertent cases that may arrive in the country. It should also make necessary arrangements for transport and quarantine facilities for hospitals," he added.