One year is not too small a period to learn from mistakes. Yet for the Bangladesh authorities, responsible for tackling a pandemic like Covid-19, the time appears to be not enough. Maybe, they were not interested in learning.
On March 08 last year, when the first Covid case was detected, the health authorities were caught off-guard. Being new to a scourge, caused by the deadly pathogen called SARS-CoV-2, at first, they did not know how to handle the outbreak. Physicians, however, gradually learnt to deal with the disease scientifically.
But it was the job of the health authorities and the general administration to contain the disease employing health safety guidelines, quarantining people coming from abroad and other sources of infection, imposing lockdown and ensuring medical supports such as high-flow oxygen, adequate number of beds in the intensive care units (ICUs) in the Covid-dedicated hospitals across the country.
The sufferings of the critical patients at the initial months of the infections knew no bounds. Many critical patients died due to mismanagement on the part of the health authorities. The government declared a general 'holiday'. But what happened with garments workers can hardly be forgotten. Scams surfaced over procurement of facemasks and personal protective equipment (PPE).
What had troubled the people most was 'indecision' on many important issues on the part of the administration.
True, many countries, initially, had also lost their way while dealing with the virus. But Bangladesh could do better and many lives could have been saved had the authorities taken the right decision at the right time.
When the rate of infection started declining after reaching its peak in early July last year, some men in authority had come forward to take credit.
The rate of infection has lately increased to about 20 per cent from a little over 2.0 per cent in less than a couple of months. The infection rate has been setting a record every day for the last few days. Is there anyone to take the blame for that?
People's apathy towards health safety guidelines is largely blamed for the ongoing resurgence of the disease. The allegation is largely true. But who is to blame for allowing super-spreading public events or crowding of sea beaches and other tourist spots? Why did the relevant authorities fail to put the incoming people in institutional quarantine when the UK variant of novel coronavirus started spreading to other countries?
Is it the UK variant or the one originating from South Africa responsible for the ongoing resurgence? Unfortunately, none has tried to look into the issue.
The government has been watching from a distance when both infection and fatalities were going up during the past few weeks.
The relevant authorities have announced 18-point measures to tackle the situation. But, as had happened on previous occasions, the measures are half-hearted, inadequate and directionless. There is also a lack of seriousness even to get those measures enforced.
Both infection and fatality have been rising fast. In the absence of harsh measures, the situation might go out of hand. The state-dedicated Covid-hospitals have run out of ICU beds and most general beds are also occupied. The situation has almost reached the breaking point.
The government has earned lots of appreciation for efficient Covid-vaccine procurement and management. It should not spoil such an achievement through inaction, deliberate or otherwise.