Move aims to tackle possible third wave of pandemic, even though there is ‘little chance’ of that happening due to government’s vaccination efforts
The health authorities have decided to keep the Covid-19 dedicated field hospitals operational, considering the findings and experience gathered during the prolonged second wave of the pandemic.
This move will help the country better prepare for a possible coronavirus upsurge in the near future, public health experts and epidemiologists say.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the last time the daily infection rate went below the 5% mark was on March 8 this year.
Then, as the pandemic situation improved due to a series of lockdowns and countrywide mass vaccination efforts, the figure again dropped below 5% on Tuesday and has remained as such till Thursday.
From May 8 till Wednesday, a total of 996,001 people tested positive for the deadly virus – over 5,000 people on an average every day.
Also, as many as 18,837 people died from Covid-19 across the country during this period – 94 people died in a day.
Experts and health officials say it will take them at least two more weeks to say for certain that the prolonged second wave of the pandemic has ended.
However, they fear that the reopening of all workplaces and educational institutions, and resumption of public transports and international flight operations may hurt the country’s coronavirus situation.
Bangladesh was outrageously unprepared when the first Covid-19 cases were reported in March, 2020. The health authorities were in disarray as they scrambled for medicines, PPEs, N95 masks, and test kits.
Acute shortage of beds and coronavirus dedicated wards added to the misery of the general people as they fanatically hurried from one hospital to another seeking treatment for themselves as well as their loved ones.
Even this year, patients were seen struggling for ICU, HDU beds, and oxygen cylinders as the pandemic deteriorated further a few months back.
However, the authorities, to some extent, were able to address the crisis by increasing healthcare facilities in both private and government hospitals across the country.
They also made progress with the countrywide mass inoculation campaign. But the desired results were far from achieved due to supply disruptions, mainly caused by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
However, with more and more vaccine jabs arriving in the country, the government plans to vaccinate a large portion of the population by the end of this year, to save as many lives as possible while keeping the country’s economy running.
A third wave?
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, a former director general (DG) of the DGHS, Prof Shah Mohammad Monir, who is a member of the DGHS’ eight-member Public Health Advisors Group, said: “The current statistics indicate that the country is on its way in controlling Covid-19 infections for the time being.”
Ideally, if one country successfully maintains a daily test positivity rate below the 5% mark for at least two weeks, it can be said that they have been able to control the virus’s spread of the virus, he observed.
“Besides, all the factories and educational institutes have been allowed to reopen. The impact of this is inevitable. So, we may see a little surge in cases and deaths shortly,” the professor said.
Asked about the possibilities of a third pandemic wave, he said that there is a “little chance” of that happening as vaccination efforts are underway in Bangladesh as well as across the globe.
Prof Shah Mohammad Monir also opined that keeping the current treatment facilities, including the Covid-19 dedicated field hospitals, operational is the key to overcoming any future virus upsurge
Contacted, Dr Farid Hossain Miah, director of hospitals and clinics at the DGHS, said that in order to keep these hospitals running, they have already instructed all the government hospitals to start accepting non-Covid-19 patients.
“They have also been asked to be prepared for treating coronavirus patients when needed.”
Besides, health authorities have also decided not to dismantle the 1,000-bed dedicated Covid-19 hospital at the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Market in Mohakhali and the field hospital established at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Convention Centre as they both have been developed as fixed structures and the concerned hospital authorities need to be kept ready so that these facilities could be used at times of another coronavirus upsurge, he added.
“This time we want to keep our hospitals ready and well prepared,” Dr Farid said.