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The Financial Express

Ignoring the lessons of first wave of Covid-19

| Updated: April 03, 2021 21:59:57


Ignoring the lessons of first wave of Covid-19

The infection is spreading exponentially, which is an indication that the second wave of coronavirus may take a turn for the worse. The daily rise in new virus cases in Bangladesh and most countries in the world also indicates that the Covid-19 will continue for an indefinite period. Be it the second wave in South Asia or the third wave in Europe; the future appears bleak.  There are several reasons behind the fresh surge of the deadly virus in different parts of the world. In the case of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the laxity to follow the necessary safety and health protocols drives the surge though new variants may be the most likely reason.

 Carelessness or negligence to abide by the necessary health protocol is nothing new in Bangladesh. During the first wave, which started in March last year, many people routinely followed the protocol of the coronavirus. The authorities, however, had to struggle a lot to make people compliant with hygiene practices. Repeated warnings and messages through news and social media by the government, health experts and civil society members played a role in making people aware of health protocol. Nevertheless, strict adherence is always absent.

Over time, the rate of infection reduced, and the death rate also lowered. The recovery of many virus-affected people, mostly without hospitalisation and not knowing whether they were affected, creates an ambience that people of the country have strong immunity to fight against the virus.  Except for educational institutions, almost everything opened up and different activities resumed within a couple of months of lockdown. By the third quarter of the past year, normalcy nearly came back to the country.   A wrong impression of optimism also swept the county by the end of last year that Bangladesh is almost immune from Covid-19 infection. Thus a growing number of people started to ignore the health protocol by not wearing face masks, not washing their hands and not sanitising houses, offices and vehicles and abandoning social or physical distancing. 

The false optimism aggravated further following the launch of much-awaited vaccination in Bangladesh and India. A large section of people wrongly thinks that the vaccination will reduce the risk of infection overnight. In Bangladesh, many people expressed their disbelief in vaccine's effectiveness, the Indian version of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Some of them also do not bother to follow the health protocol. Again, a large section of vaccinated people has turned silly by ignoring the health protocols despite knowing full well that the first shot is no warranty to stop infection.

The government's repeated warnings to follow the health protocol and avoid unnecessary social gathering have fallen on deaf ears. The authorities also failed to ensure health protocol in public transports and public places. They also learn little from the first wave, which exposed the country's health-infrastructure vulnerabilities. There is still little effort to take the necessary steps to improve the infrastructure. 'Test, trace and isolation' protocols remain weak. That's why virus affected patients are again suffering and struggling to get essential treatments in hospitals.  It appears that the authorities also become complacent to some extent as vaccine is there now. All these make it clear that lessons from the first wave are largely ignored in the country.

 

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