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On Tuesday Prothom Alo carried a report about the small village being hit hard, with 12 deaths in 22 days. This report made the authorities pay attention. Other than the civil surgeon, physicians and health workers, the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) and upazila chairman also visited the village. UNO Sharmin Akhter used a megaphone to spread awareness messages and also assured the affected persons of proper healthcare.

It is a matter of concern that the village had no community clinic so the people there were already deprived of health services. Matters worsened with the outbreak of coronavirus.

In the Garadob village of Gangni upazila, Meherpur, 21 persons died in 25 days. Here too the villagers had reluctance and reservations about corona tests. Even with fever and a cold, a woman named Pansura Khatun said, “Why will I test for corona and be ostracized?” The district civil surgeon’s office said that 1,419 persons in Gangni upazila had contracted coronavirus. The number, however, is much higher. Many people in the village, like Pansura Begum, avoid getting tested.

It is not possible to carry out tests and provide treatment with just a handful of health department officials. There must be mobilisation of public awareness. The local people’s representatives, political leadership and youth must be involved in this task

Lakhshmipur in Kushtia and Garadob of Meherpur are no isolated cases. This situation prevails in most areas of the country. The people must be tested, whether they have symptoms or not. If the results are positive, immediately treatment must be provided. The treatment can be carried out at home if the symptoms are not serious. The patient can be hospitalised if the symptoms are serious.

From the very outset we have been saying that coronavirus is a national and global disaster. It is not possible to carry out tests and provide treatment with just a handful of health department officials. There must be mobilisation of public awareness. The local people’s representatives, political leadership and youth must be involved in this task.

Vaccines will be given at a union level from 7 August. This is undoubtedly a positive initiative. But if there is only one vaccination centre per union, people coming from far away may not even be able to get vaccinated by the time they arrive. Each union should have several centres. All villages should follow the example of Lakshmipur, Kushtia.

We must make all-out efforts to prevent coronavirus.

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