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Health Minister: Mall crowds may bring back Covid nightmare

  • Published at 02:49 pm May 6th, 2021
Shoppers shopping in Chandni Chawk, Dhaka 9 April 2021
Shoppers crowd the entrance of Chandni Chawk market in the New Market area, looking at and buying products on display, as the markets reopen in Dhaka amid the ongoing week-long lockdown on Friday, April 9, 2021 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Health Minister Zahid Maleque urges all to cooperate with the government in containing Covid-19

Voicing concerns over huge crowds at shopping malls violating health safety rules, Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Thursday, warned that the coronavirus transmission may spike again if this trend continues till Eid-ul-Fitr.

“The government has allowed reopening shops and shopping malls on the occasion of eid, but the crowds we’re seeing there will surely contribute to the virus surge again,” he said.

The minister said: “What if you don’t buy clothes for an Eid? The government has reopened markets, but it’s up to us whether to go or not there. 

“Many women go shopping with children without wearing masks.  Though we’ve given various instructions in this regard, people aren’t maintaining the health safety rules accordingly.”

Speaking at a virtual discussion arranged by Bangladesh Private Medical College Association, he said people must cooperate with the government in containing the virus by maintaining health safety rules, physical distancing and wearing masks.

Also Read - Another Eid with Covid-19 restrictions

Describing lockdown as the most effective way of controlling coronavirus transmission, he said the ongoing lockdown has helped reduce the coronavirus infections and death rates in the country. “But lockdown is not a long-term solution as it affects the economy and the livelihoods of people.”

The minister said the government resumed bus services in the capital and districts due to pressure from various quarters.

Zahid Maleque said the coronavirus infection came under control early this year, but the second wave of the virus has created due to people’s reckless attitude, travelling spree, mass gathering, and apathy to the health safety rules.

“We forget the past and didn’t take a lesson from it. We should keep in mind how people are suffering and dying due to the oxygen crisis in India. So, we should keep our country well by following the health safety guidelines,” he said.

The minister said the government has taken various steps to enhance the local production of oxygen so that the country can face any emergency.

According to him, the government has set up central oxygen lines in 130 hospitals to provide the patients with oxygen support.

He, however, urged both the private and public hospitals to use more gas oxygen than liquid one in treating coronavirus patients. “It would be useful for us as the country is in a good position in producing gas oxygen. 

Also Read - DGHS: Shop alone, not in groups

“We’ve asked 50 government hospitals to use gas oxygen. We can use liquid oxygen only in the Covid-dedicated hospitals.”

He laid emphasis on increasing the stock of oxygen to face any deteriorating situation as the infection may increase again due to the gatherings at the shopping malls. “We don't want to make mistakes as did by India as we want to learn from that. “

The minister said the government has procured around 3,000 high-flow nasal cannula and oxygen concentrators and those are now being used to provide treatment to the Covid patients.

“We need now 70-80 tonnes of oxygen a day, but we required 210 tonnes of oxygen when the coronavirus reached its peak,” he said.

Zahid Maleque said the country has the capacity to produce 175 tonnes of liquid oxygen every day.

He said Linde is the biggest oxygen-producing company in the country while there-four more private companies are also producing it.

The minister hoped that the country’s daily capacity to produce oxygen will reach 270 tonnes by July next while two more companies will also start producing oxygen.

Besides, he said, there are 22,000 oxygen cylinders in government hands to treat patients.

Also Read - No masks will lead to closure of shopping malls

He said there are 900 tonnes of oxygen stored by different companies while the public hospitals have a stock of 450 tonnes of oxygen. “It’s the strength of us and we can use it during the crisis.”

Maleque said the government is in the process of buying a new oxygen generator, but it will take time to bring it to the country.

“So far, we’re in a good position in terms of oxygen production and stock, but a crisis may be created if the infection rate goes up unusually. So, we must keep the virus under control,” the minister observed.

He said the government then increased the beds for corona patients to 12,000 while Covid tests are being conducted at 400 laboratories across the country.

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