Bangladesh, which is on alert to prevent the new coronavirus infection, has taken three-level measures to fight off the virus, which is now a global public health emergency. “We’re on alert. We’re working to prevent the virus from coming to Bangladesh. We’ve drafted a three-level plan,” Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the government’s disease monitoring arm, IEDCR told Bangladesh Post on Thursday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said a dedicated hospital has been kept ready to handle any future coronavirus case in the country.
The comments came in the wake of the World Health Organisation’s call to countries to prepare for a possible pandemic of the new virus, which is named COVID-19, as there is no sign of petering out.
Over 80,000 people in about 40 countries have so far been infected with the virus, which emerged in December from the China’s Wuhan city. More than 2,700 died, most of them in China. Bangladesh is so far free from the virus. Saudi Arabia suspended Umrah Hajj and tourist visa temporarily to check the virus.
Prof Flora said they had started screening at the entry point, which is the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, from day one, as a precautionary measure that she called ‘alert level’.
“The second plan is what we’ll do when we get the virus imported from outside. The third plan is to deal with the situation of spreading the virus among people within the country after being imported from outside,” she said, calling this third plan as ‘emergency preparedness’.
In the first phase, she said, apart from screening measures at the port of entry, they are strengthening the surveillance system to catch the virus. At the same time, they are communicating with the people every day through media by holding daily press briefing.
“Next phase is to strengthen the laboratory capacity,” Prof Flora said, adding that they are training doctors and other healthcare providers. “We’ve identified an exclusive hospital in Dhaka – Kuwait Maitree Hospital, to treat coronavirus infected patients there,” she said.
Prof Flora said they are planning to prepare another hospital dedicated to treatment of coronavirus infected patients. At the emergency level, she said, the issue of ‘social distancing’ will come. “We are devising plan how to do that.” Contact tracing in which IEDCR test persons who come to contact with the infected one will go on, she said.
The director urged all not to be panicked. “At the same time, I’ll urge all not to spread rumours. Please let us know if you have any symptoms of the virus,” she said, suggesting all to call the hotline numbers of the IEDCR – 01937000011, 01937110011, 01927711784 and 01927711785.
The WHO does not recommend using facemask for healthy individuals. But the UN health body advises people to take precautionary measures.
“Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after going to the bathroom and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; cover cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away; and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects” – are some of the measures recommended by the experts.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
“Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment,” WHO said. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. About 2 percent of people with the disease have died. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention, the WHO recommends.