Random breach of health safety rules may worsen the situation, he says
Expressing his fear about a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said that if the violation of health rules continues, it will not be possible to tackle another wave.
“We, the people, wandered whimsically, without masks and defying social distancing, leading to the second wave. If we repeat the same, the third wave is imminent,” he said on Tuesday morning.
“The number of hospitals and hospital beds can’t be increased overnight. Yet, we have raised the number of beds to 7,000 from 2,500 within a very short time. Now we can cater to 10 times more patents. But this is not possible for us to repeat every time,” he warned.
The minister made the remarks while addressing a virtual meeting on the National Nutrition Week, speaking as the chief guest.
“How many hospital beds and high-flow nasal cannulas can we increase? How much oxygen can we supply?” he asked.
After the pandemic broke out in the country in March last year, the government in September repeatedly warned of a second wave of the viral disease in winter starting in late November.
However, both the infection and fatality rates stayed at a tolerant level despite having higher possibility of the pandemic getting worse in winter. The test-positivity rate even plummeted below the 3% mark in mid-February, hinting at an improvement in the crisis.
But in March, the number of new Covid-19 cases and deaths started to rise at an alarming rate, breaking all previous records – one after another.
The infection rate, the minister said, dropped to 7-8% at a certain time period and there used to be up to 350 new cases every day.
“But how did the daily caseload surge to 7,000 and body count cross 100?” he questioned, insisting that these things needed to be analyzed.
“How did the [second] wave of coronavirus come? Who brought it?” he further questioned.
The minister warned that the country would brace for another spell of the viral outbreak “if the people do not bother about the factors responsible for the worsening situation. We can be struck by the third wave. We have to be careful so that it does not happen,” he said.
Health Services Division Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah and Directorate General of Health Services Director General Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, among others, also addressed the virtual meeting.
Earlier, the minister claimed that there was nothing to be worried about when the top brass of the government in September had warned everyone to be prepared for the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
He had also been criticized for his comments over the supply and stock of the health kits, and the Covid-19 preparedness after the pandemic surfaced in the country last year.