A large portion of the Dhaka population suffer from chronic health conditions, putting them at high risk from coronavirus
An outbreak of Covid-19 (coronavirus) would pose a serious challenge in Dhaka due to the dense population of the city, experts have said.
Returning Bangladeshi expatriates pose an additional challenge to containing the virus, they added.
The comment was made at a seminar titled “Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak : Challenges and concerns for Bangladesh,” held at Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University (DU) on Sunday. The seminar was organized by the Biotechnology Research Centre (BRC) of DU.
DU Vice Chancellor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman was the chief guest at the seminar, while former director (disease control) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed was keynote speaker. BRC Director Dr Sharif Akhteruzzaman presided over the session.
A large portion of the Dhaka population suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, COPD, cancer, renal and liver diseases, putting them at high risk from coronavirus, speakers said.
“Dhaka is a densely populated city. Covid-19 will have a huge impact if it spreads to more people in Dhaka,” Dr Be-Nazir said.
“Almost 10 million Bangladeshi expatriates work and live outside the country. When they return, they do not want to stay in quarantine. Rather, they want to go home first,” he added, urging the authorities concerned to not compromise in the fight against coronavirus.
The former DGHS director also dismissed allegations that the number of coronavirus patients revealed by the government was false.
“There is nothing to worried or confused about the number of coronavirus infected people. The number disclosed by the government is true,” he said.
Dr Md Imdadul Haque, dean of the faculty of Biological science of DU, said: “There is a similarity between Bangladeshi and Italian people. People of both countries are habituated to gossiping with other people. That is why coronavirus spread rapidly in Italy.
“Bangladesh is such a populated country that the situation will be serious if coronavirus spreads,” he added.
DU VC Akhtaruzzaman said: “Mobility must be limited [to stop the spread of coronavirus]. We have postponed some sports events, including the Inter-Hall Sports. We are aware we will face big risk of Covid-19.”
When asked whether the university may be shut down until the risk of coronavirus has passed, the VC said: “Universities are an issue of national importance. After taking the national interest and public health into account, a decision will be made for the wellbeing of the nation. A national and integrated approach is needed for Bangladesh.”