Bangladesh crosses peak of Covid third wave: Abu Jamil Faisal

Abu Jamil Faisal, member of the public health advisory committee of the Directorate General of Health Services

Senior public health expert Abu Jamil Faisal is a member of the public health advisory committee of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). He is also an adjunct faculty at Dhaka University, State University of Bangladesh and Bangladesh University of Health Sciences. Abu Jamil Faisal spoke to Prothom Alo about various issues including the Covid situation of the country and treatment of patients.

Q :

The number of Covid-19 detection has dropped below 10,000 for three consecutive days. Rate of detection is below 25 per cent against the samples tested. Have the infections started dropping?

Infection of Covid-19 had risen in the country because of the prevalence of Omicron variant. Infection sees a downtrend now. Detection rate has dropped. Overall, the country sees a downtrend in Covid-219 infections.

Q :

Public health experts say this is the third wave of Covid-19. Has the peak of this wave been passed?

The country has passed the peak of the third wave of Covid infection. Detection is now at a stable condition and it will drop more gradually. Experience from other country says so. Number of patients has increased for four to six weeks. It remained stable for 5-6 days. Infection then started dropping.

Q :

Currently, more than 200,000 Covid patients have been undergoing treatment with 99 per cent of them receiving treatment at home. What is the role of the health directorate in treating such a large number of patients?

The health directorate only looks after the patients receiving treatment at hospitals. Though 99 per cent of patients are receiving treatment at home, the health directorate does not take care of them. Yet the health directorate has the patients’ details including name and mobile number. How the patients staying at home are doing; what medicine they are taking – nothing could be learned at all. The government could have played more roles in a planned way on the treatment of Covid patients receiving treatment at home.

Q :

Omicron variant causes relatively fewer deaths than the Delta variant. But many people face post-Covid complexities. Do you think the activities of the government are enough for the post-Covid treatment?

It is necessary to do research on post-Covid complexities. Post-Covid treatment is being required all over the world. Post-Covid treatment has been arranged at the outdoor section of several hospitals. No initiative from the government on the post-Covid treatment has been seen in Bangladesh as yet.

Q :

Book fair will begin this month. It will draw crowd. People are so indifferent in maintaining health rules since the beginning. Have the government played an effective role to enforce the health protocols?

The government has merely imposed some restrictions in connection with Covid-19. The government thinks once restrictions are imposed everyone would follow. There is no initiative to enforce restrictions. No coordinated steps were taken either. Local public representatives could have played a big role in maintaining Covid-19 restrictions. They did not step in either. People could not have been engaged, so they are reluctant to follow health rules. It is necessary to take special initiative for the book fair. People can be made aware of Covid-19 and mask can be distributed free.

Q :

Nearly 100 million (10 crore) people have received the first dose of Covid-19. But inculcation of two doses lags far behind the target. Is the vaccination campaign of the country on the right track? How can the unregistered people be brought under vaccination?

Bangladesh lags behind far of its target on vaccination campaign. It is saddening not to meet the target even after having enough vaccine doses. People are not coming to take vaccine. Steps are being taken to reach people either. They are not being encouraged. There is a huge lack of communication from the government to the people. It is necessary to take strong publicity campaign by the government on Covid-19 vaccination.

*This report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna