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The Financial Express

Experts push for strict safeguard measures

'Masks alone can give 70 per cent protection'


| Updated: September 28, 2020 13:49:56


Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Malik speaking at a programme organised by Bangladesh Society of Medicine at a city hotel on Sunday — PID Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Malik speaking at a programme organised by Bangladesh Society of Medicine at a city hotel on Sunday — PID

Health experts advised the people again on Sunday to strictly follow the safeguard measures such as wearing of masks, frequent washing of hands and social distancing to protect themselves from novel coronavirus infection.

They found the situation with the development of vaccines and their effectiveness against the virus uncertain and suggested all to adhere to health safety measures.

The experts felt that the country's health sector and health workforce are efficient enough to deal with the 'second wave' of the Covid-19 infection if all the necessary equipment are available.

There could be increased incidence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) during the winter as the virus acts differently in different temperature, they said.

Experts were speaking at a national seminar on 'Pandemic of the Century: Reality and us', organised by Bangladesh Society of Medicine (BSM) at a city hotel.

Health minister Zahid Maleque was present as the chief guest at the seminar, where BSM secretary general Professor Ahmedul Kabir deliverred the keynote presentation. Prof Kabir said masks can ensure 75 per cent protection against the virus.

He said there are 200 vaccine projects currently are in progress across the world, of which 20 were in advanced stage. As many as 10 of them are now undergoing human trial, but the chances of success are only 10 to 20 per cent, he added. "We do not know which one is going to work."

He suggested several steps to fight the pandemic instead of depending on vaccine only. These are widespread community masking, physical distancing, continuing rapid identification of cases, isolating cases, tracing of contacts and, quarantining and providing proper treatment at proper time.

Chairman of the National Technical Advisory Committee Professor Dr Md Shahidulla said that the vaccine would come, but it is not sure when it would be ready.

Besides, there is a risks. There are uncertainties over the effectiveness, safety of the vaccines. The issues relating the cost of vaccines and the duration of protection are also important, he said.

"I want to lay emphasis that hand washing , wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing can protect us from virus. The health measures are the mainstay at this moment. There should be month-long campaign to disseminate the messages," he said.

Bangladesh Medical Association secretary general Dr Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury suggested taking ledssons from the previous pandemics like Dengue.

The Health DG should take initiatives for several surveillance project to present the actual scenario of the pandemic. There should be research-based information and proper safety of the health workforce who are engaged in fighting Covid-19, he added.

SWACHIP secretary general MA Aziz said that the physicians are now well equipped along with equipped hospitals that can give proper treatment to the patients.

SWACHIP president Professor Dr Iqbal Arslan said that Bangladesh is on the right track in its fight against the pandemic. Research showed that the virus behaves differently in different temperature.

Director general of health services Professor ABM Khurshid Alam said that there is no scope to undermine the achievement of Bangladesh compared to the neighbouring and other developed countries, considering the population density and health workforce.

He said a section of people are not at all conscious about the pandemic. Everyone should collectively work on the health measures to fight the pandemic, he added.

Health services division secretary Abdul Mannan said that social distancing is impossible in Bangladesh, but it needs to be termed as physical distancing. The Western countries also could not ensure social distancing.

"The situation in the villages (in Bangladesh) is very good. There should be no reason to be worried," he said.

Minister Zahid Maleque said the Covid-19 treatment protocol has been updated eight times making it a world class one.

The death rate due to Covid-19 is low, only 1.4 per cent, in Bangladesh due to the treatment protocol. But in the UK, the death rate is 9.0 per cent with 42,000 people succumbing to the virus, in the USA and in India the virus has claimed lives of 0.2 million and 94,000 people respectively.

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