Spike of coronavirus cases and deaths cannot be reined in. As many as 3,737 more cases and 33 deaths were reported from 8:00am on Thursday to 8:00am on Friday. Some 34 people died of the virus on the previous day. The total number of detected coronavirus cases now stands at 588,132 in the country while the rate of detection is 13.69 per cent. This information is a matter of great concern.

In the meantime, the South African strain of the virus has entered in Bangladesh and Oxford-AstraZeneca developed vaccine is said to be ineffective against it. A Bangladesh-origin scientist, however, in an interview with The Daily Star, said it’s a false propaganda. Oxford-AstraZeneca developed vaccine is definitely effective. The government should clarify this to the people so that no confusion arises. Not much side effects of the vaccine has been noted in Bangladesh so far.

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Amid these circumstances, there is a lack of initiative by the government and the administration in sample testing and vaccinating. There is a shortage of infrastructural facilities and also the rural people are less interested in testing the virus. The vaccination campaign is in fact still limited to educated, urban and middle class people. In reality, a mass vaccination campaign hasn’t started yet.

We must pay attention to several issues before situation worsens further. Firstly, massive initiative will have to be taken to encourage the general people to get vaccinated. Publicity on getting vaccinated will have to be increased at all levels of the government and the private sector.

Secondly, the prevailing laxness on maintaining health rules must be addressed. It is essential to take stern measures.

Meanwhile, an inter-ministerial meeting, on 25 March, decided to reopen all schools and colleges and start teaching at classroom from 23 May and we think it is feasible. Earlier, the government decided to reopen the education institutions on 30 March. But that decision was reconsidered because of rise in coronavirus transmission in the country. The education ministry said reopening of schools has been delayed amid the prevalence of rise in Covid-19 in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world recently. Teaching at classroom is scheduled to start at the country’s public universities from 23 May. All educational institutions across the country remained closed since 17 March 2020 because of coronavirus situation in Bangladesh.

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Only keeping educational institutions shut will not reduce the risks. Other than educational institutions, everything including markets, public transport and tourism are open. At the beginning, the government had said that receiving vaccine does not imply being free from coronavirus. All has to follow health rules along with getting vaccinated. Wearing masks is must while going out. Use of hand sanitiser is must. But there is a sense of apathy among the citizens and the administrations in this regard. The situations will not improve by conducting random raids and imposing fines on people occasionally. All-out and coordinated efforts are must to fight coronavirus pandemic and ‘no mask, no service’ policy must be applied strongly.

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