• Monday, Feb 06, 2023
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

You can catch Covid-19 from public toilets, but it can be prevented

  • Published at 09:20 am November 19th, 2020
Public toilets-Mehedi Hasan
File photo Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

World Toilet Day being observed worldwide on Thursday

Speakers at a webinar said Bangladesh is making great strides in building public toilets and reducing open defecation but public toilets could be a high-risk spot for coronavirus transmission. 

People need to touch surfaces at the public toilet space and therefore they can contract the virus from there. However, providing no-touch hand wash facilities and disinfecting toilets frequently could reduce the spread.

The webinar was organized by Reckitt Benckiser marking the World Toilet Day on Thursday.

Dr Tariq Bin Yousuf, chief urban planner at Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), said, “We have made a plan to build 100 toilets in Dhaka city to ensure sanitation for the city people. However, the Covid-19 situation doubled our challenge as we cannot really stop people from touching surfaces at public toilets.”

He said now they are working on disinfecting the surface areas of public toilets as well so that they can reduce Covid-19 spread.

Md Abul Kalam Azad, president of Bangladesh Scouts, said Covid-19 spread could be controlled if any hand washing facilities are installed in public toilets and public areas that do not require any surface touching.

Monirul Alam, Wash specialist at Unicef said Bangladesh is doing very well in terms of reducing open defecation rate as the open defecation rate is only 1.5% right now.

However, he said school children are often neglected when it comes to hygienic toilets.

“Nearly 16 million children go to school in Bangladesh. Gender segregated toilets need to be set up in schools and it should be cleaned regularly,” he said.

Hand washing was always an important issue for school children’s hygienic and the pandemic has brought this issue to the forefront again in 2019, he said.

“We cannot send our children to school because most schools cannot provide enough hand soaps and hand wash facilities,” he said.

Nusrat Jahan, marketing director of Reckitt Benckiser said women do not drink enough water due to lack of hygienic public toilets if they need to stay outside for long hours.

“This could cause serious damage to their health. Hygienic public toilets are not a luxury, it is a necessity for women,” she said.

Rafiqul Islam, manager, Brac, said Bangladesh is facing a challenge in terms of sanitation sustainability.

“Toilets in flood-prone areas and coastal areas are not sustainable due to natural disaster. We need to find a way to build sustainable toilets for those areas in Bangladesh,” he said. 

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