New concern over corona at year end

Fresh corona sub-variant detected in India. DGHS on alert  

A health worker administers the fourth corona vaccine dose on a person at the Kurmitola General Hospital on Tuesday, 20 December, 2022.Prothom Alo

In December 2019, humans were first infected with coronavirus in China’s Wuhan. Then, becoming an epidemic, it spread all over the world.

Meanwhile, new concerns are being heard coming in the last week of December this year. It is a sub-variant of coronavirus’s omicron variant that has created this risk.

World Health Organization (WHO)’s latest epidemiological update from 21 December stated that 149,674 new patients have been identified in China within past one week (12-18 December). 337 people died during this time.

Even in the previous week, almost the same number of people were infected and died in the country. A lot more people were infected in Japan and South Korea during this period, as stated in the WHO report.

The WHO report has stated, despite infections going up in some countries, the overall global infection scenario has been stable. Instead, deaths in the last week have fallen by 6 per cent from the previous week.

Public health expert and advisor to government’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Mustuq Husain told Prothom Alo, omicron is a variant of coronavirus. BA-5 is a sub-variant of omicron while BF (BA. is a sub-variant of BA-5.

This new sub-variant has already been identified in China, USA and India. BF is spreading among humans faster than any other sub-variant. And, this is the reason for concern.

Soon after the recent infection rate increase in China, the prime minister of neighbouring India Narendra Modi met with the people concerned about the Corona situation.

Apart from urging citizens to wear masks, he has also talked about analysing the genes of the virus. As per WHO records, 1,130 people have been newly infected in India within last one week.

Indian media is reporting that four people have already been identified with BF infection there. Two of them are from Odessa while the other two are from Gujarat state.

When neighbouring India sees a rise in infections or detects new variants, concern escalates in Bangladesh. Though the number of new cases in Bangladesh is relatively low, the health department reported seven new cases on Saturday. The number was eight on the day before.

However, the additional director general (administration) of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), professor Ahmadul Kabir told Prothom Alo, “It might not take long for the numbers to reach seven or eight thousand from just seven or eight.”

“It must be kept in mind that corona had spread throughout the world, from just a handful of people in Wuhan, China,” he added.

In the current situation, even the health department is on alert. A meeting was held in the conference room of the directorate on last Thursday. The issue of keeping the Covid hospitals, under DGHS’s supervision, ready was discussed in the meeting.

DGHS sources had said that the national technical advisory committee on Covid-19 was supposed to meet on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the public relations office of DGHS had stated about a press conference on behalf of the committee on Sunday 10.00am.

From 20 December the regular corona vaccination centres have started administering the forth dose.

Till 22 December, 47,106 people had taken the fourth dose of vaccine across the country. Only 136 of them had been given Chinese Sinopharm vaccine while the rest of them have received Pfizer vaccine of the USA.

However some people are doubtful over the expiry date of the vaccine. The date 30 November is written on the vials of Pfizer vaccine, sent to the vaccination centres, as the expiry date.

DGHS however has said that these vaccines can be used till 28 February next year. The directorate has extended the expiration time of Pfizer under World Health Organization’s advice.

As per the latest records of WHO, 88 per cent of Bangladesh’s entire population has received first dose of the corona vaccine. The second and third doses have been given to 74 and 38 per cent people respectively.