Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on Sunday, asked everyone to bolster preparations as the Covid-19 situation may worsen in the upcoming winter
Many countries – such as France, Spain, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, England, and South Africa – are witnessing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases even after having brought the public health crisis under control.
In Bangladesh, however, the first wave of the novel coronavirus infection has yet to end.
The death rate from Covid-19 is steadily increasing here. Evidenced by the fact that the country's death rate was 1.37% from September 1 to 5, but it now stands at 1.42% in the latest data published by the Directorate General of health Services (DGHS) on Sunday.
Although the Covid-19 infection rate has been declining in recent weeks, it is doing so very slowly. As a result, there is doubt among experts about when the first wave will end. Meanwhile, concerns have already begun over a possible second wave.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked everyone to bolster their preparations as the Covid-19 situation may worsen in the upcoming winter.
A total of 1,544 new infections and 26 deaths were recorded on Sunday, taking the total number of people infected to 348,916 and deaths toll to 4,939, according to the DGHS.
Speaking to The Business Standard, a member of the government's Public Health Expert Advisor's Group Prof Dr MA Foyez said, "The first wave is not over yet. The novel coronavirus is not completely abolished, that is why when the first wave is over, there is a risk of a second wave."
A second wave will occur if proper measures are not taken to deal with the infections, and hygiene practices are not followed.
Prof Dr Foyez, also a former director general of the DGHS, continued, "In order to control the spread of infection, Covid-19 patients should be kept isolated and contact tracing should be carried out.
"The government should collect data on why some people are not following proper hygiene rules, and it should solve this particular issue on the basis of the collected data," he said.
Dr M Mushtuq Hussain, Covid-19 pandemic control consultant at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), pointed out that not just a second, but there is a risk of a third or fourth wave too.
He further said, "Infections are on the rise in our neighboring country India. This is why our risk of infection is higher. In our country, the infection rate was above 20% for two and a half months, then it came down to 15% in September."
"The infection rate has remained stable, in one position, for several days. The first wave has persisted for a long period in our country, and if proper measures are not taken to mitigate the spread of infection, a second wave will come," he added.
Dr Mushtuq said there is no alternative to the identification, isolation and quarantine of patients to further reduce the infection rate.
Stating that public health campaigns must be strengthened, he continued, "In all cases, the community needs to be involved and empowered. In the early stages, people could be instructed when they were scared, but now after six months, the government has to work intensively."
"By mobilising the people and involving local public representatives, a sustainable result can be obtained," he said.
Under the circumstances, The Public Health Advisor's Group on August 31 recommended, to the government, a series of measures necessary to suppress the transmission of Covid-19.
Prof Liakot Ali, a member of public health advisors' group told the Business Standard, "The wave of infection will increase in the winter. The main problem in winter is ventilation. The windows are kept closed, so transmission will increase."
Plus, in winter, there is a decrease in humidity, which is connected with factors such as droplets and aerosols, he added.
He called for ramping up testing, making wearing masks compulsory and ensuring institutional quarantine. "The virus cannot be contained by ignoring the public health measures," Prof Ali said.
How different countries are planning for a second wave
People in England, who break new rules requiring them to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone infected with Covid-19, will face a fine of up to 10,000 pounds ($12,914), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday.
The rules will apply from September 28 to anyone in England who tests positive for the virus or is notified by public health workers that they have been in contact with someone infectious.
According to a Guardian report published on Sunday, Germany and South Korea were among the fastest to get their testing and tracing systems operating on a large scale, allowing them to identify where and how the disease was spreading.
Germany tested everyone returning from holidays over the summer, minimising imported infections.
The region around the Spanish capital is bracing for a return of controls, although the government is trying to avoid calling them lockdowns. Restrictions will apply to areas with more than 1,000 cases per 10,000 people.
They will affect nearly a million people and will effectively limit movement to work, medical and educational reasons.
Targeted regional lockdowns depend, however, on a track and trace capacity that lets authorities see where and how the virus is spreading.
South Africa has launched a new mobile application to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and prevent a possible second wave of the virus, the country's Department of Health said on Wednesday.