In the beginning, Southeast Asian countries did not pay much attention to early warning signs of coronavirus. Only Nepal and Bhutan had taken some positive measures and got some benefits. Tourists did not go to those two countries because of flight suspensions, and thus infections did not go up.
Bangladesh and India did not test much, and lockdowns were not appropriately enforced in the two neighbouring countries too. Bangladesh has still not been able to prepare specific maps to put red zones in Dhaka city under lockdowns. The mayors want zoning maps, but the health directorate is unable to give them the maps.
The health sectors of the countries in the subcontinent have not yet improved much. Therefore, the Covid-19 situation is getting worse. The health sector in those countries is run by bureaucrats.
Even in 50 years, there is no central oxygen supply system in the hospitals of our country. A shortage of doctors and nurses is evident. The infection rate has been fluctuating between 20 percent and 23 percent since May 25. Fourteen days after Eid-ul-Adha, it will surge with a rise in people's movement in cattle markets and shopping malls. Besides, a mass exodus of homebound people from Dhaka during the Eid will lead to many more infections. That is why it is necessary to increase the number of hospital beds and intensive care beds, and oxygen supply, otherwise, the death rate will go high.
We have not been able to perform 20,000 tests a day yet. Testing cannot be ramped up because of lack of coordination and not having an adequate workforce.
Infected people are not being isolated as the number of tests is not being enhanced, resulting in further transmission from them. Every day it is said that the death rate is 1.3 percent, the recovery rate is also low, so where are the remaining infected? They are not even admitted to hospital. Those calculations have to be appropriately matched. Research needs to be done on which districts have fewer patients and why there are fewer infections in slums.
Professor Nazrul Islam is a virologist and member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on coronavirus.