Suspension of the lockdown one of the major reasons behind the recent surge, says its chief
The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) is “disappointed” with the government’s response to the deadly second wave of Covid-19, its chief on Tuesday said before adding that suspension of the lockdown was a reason behind the latest surge in infections and deaths.
Bangladesh on Monday recorded fresh records in daily cases and deaths as the pandemic continues to worsen across the country.
In mid-July, the lockdown restrictions were lifted for nine days to allow people to celebrate the Eid-ul-Azha, despite record number of cases and deaths at the time.
Millions of people shopped and travelled during the pause in the strict lockdown, which was imposed from July 1 when almost everything was ordered shut — from markets to mass transportations — with soldiers and border guards patrolling the streets.
The suspension was panned by the advisory panel which warned it could exacerbate an ongoing surge driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, first detected in India.
And it became a reality on Monday, when 247 deaths and 15,192 new cases were logged — grim records in both.
“I am disappointed, of course. This is very unfortunate,” NTAC Chairman Dr Mohammad Shahidullah told Bangla Tribune on Tuesday.
Describing the upsurge as “multifactorial”, he said that the suspension of the lockdown was “definitely one of the reasons”.
Violation of health and social distancing rules were rampant outdoors during the nine-day pause in the lockdown, he said.
“If the people had even masked up then the situation would not have worsened this much,” said the advisory panel’s chief.
According to him, the low vaccination rate also contributed to the surge in infections.
“The Delta variant is responsible for 80% of the new cases. This variant is spreading over 1.5 times more than any other variant,” added Shahidullah.
Increase testing, scale up vaccination drive
Many other countries have gone through worse, said Shahidullah before adding the priorities now are to ensure that health rules are maintained and the lockdown is implemented properly. “The number of daily sample-tests needs to be increased to at least 100,000, if possible.”
Emphasizing isolation of confirmed coronavirus patients, he also stressed quarantining those who came in contact with patients. “And finally, more people need to be inoculated post-haste.”
Mismanagement at hospitals
Shahidullah’s colleague in the advisory panel, virologist Nazrul Islam, however, blamed mismanagement at hospitals behind the surge in fatalities.
Some hospitals, dealing with Covid-19 patients, have no oxygen supply system, he said.
“Patients who need ICU beds cannot be provided with one. People are dying [for these reasons]. The prime minister had ordered to set up ICUs at all hospitals in district towns, but it is yet to be implemented.” added Islam.