A stark contrast between the maximum surge of coronavirus infection in the winter in Europe and America as against its drop during the colder months in Bangladesh should not escape notice. Now that the warmer weather is replacing winter, Bangladesh has been witnessing the pathogen's spike afresh ---giving the impression of a second wave. Epidemiologists at the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned of a second or even a third wave of the virus. Now they conclude, it will never go forever but will remain as a seasonal flu.
Had it been an ordinary flu, there was not much to be concerned about. But it is the virus's extraordinary capacity for mutation that is a cause for serious concern. Now it is most important to know to what extent the second wave will adversely impact the country. In Europe, it is the third wave that has struck some countries. Cities and towns, including Paris, in Europe have been compelled to go for strict restrictions on people's movement or fresh lockdowns in the past few days.
What is noticeable is that it is the new variants first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa that have unfolded a dreadful spectre of the disease because they spread exponentially. The other thing to be observed is that this time not all countries in Europe are witnessing the fresh cornovirus spike.
The question people in Bangladesh, particularly in the affected cities, need to know is if the new variant is responsible for the fresh increase in the infection cases. Officially 10 cases of the UK variant were confirmed a few days back but then there is an eerie silence over this issue.
It seems, with the drastic fall in the Covid cases, not only the general public but also those responsible for studying the character of the virus became lax. There was a need to study the contrasting trend of virus infection in the West and Bangladesh. Weather certainly has a role or may be the pathogen's mutation varies depending on the kind of weather. Can it be that the virus now on the rampage here is a completely different variant which proliferates in warmer conditions?
The next question is to know if people who are engaged in manual labours and live in unhygienic conditions as in the slums of the large cities in this country will once again be spared of a disaster as they were before during the first wave. A study carried earlier among slum-dwellers found more than 60 per cent inhabitants infected but they were largely asymptomatic. Strangely, hardly any of them developed any serious condition let alone died. Even if anyone died of the disease, there is no official record.
If rising temperature induces proliferation of Covid cases, it may as well have a link with the air pollution that has increased by 17 per cent. Different studies gave different times for the virus's survivability in the open air from three hours to six hours and on different surfaces from seven hours to 17 hours depending on the condition of weather. But it was generally claimed blazing sun rays kill it within half an hour if exposed directly. Then why should the disease stage a comeback for the second time during the days when temperature is rising with the sun becoming more and more oppressive?
There was a need for knowing all these answers through scientific studies at the local laboratories. The developed countries are too busy to pay attention beyond their own confines. If the causes behind the fresh spike of the disease are known, measures can be taken accordingly. That people have lowered their guards against the virus is unfortunate. Strict compliance with the health protocols is still the best guarantee against Covid-19.