With the entire world struggling to contain the deadly coronavirus, one of the three patients diagnosed with Covid-19 in Bangladesh has returned home after full recovery with home-quarantine of those came back from abroad underway across the country.
One of the two coronavirus patients who made full recovery has been sent back home, said Director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Prof Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora on Friday.
She came up with the information at a press briefing arranged by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) at Mohakhali in the city.
"Two of the three infected patients have recovered fully. One of them has returned home while another is still at the hospital as some of the patient's family members are quarantined at home," Dr Flora said.
She said no new case of coronavirus has been detected in the country in the last 24 hours.
"Samples of 187 people have so far been tested by the IEDCR. Of them, 24 were tested in the last 24 hours. However, no-one of them was found infected with coronavirus anew," said Dr Flora.
About the third infected patient, the IEDCR director said the result is still positive.
She urged people with symptoms of coronavirus not to visit the IEDCR physically and instead contact it through the hotline numbers.
Dr Flora said they received 4,349 calls in the last 24 hours and of these, 4,212 made about suspected coronavirus infection. Besides, 16 people have directly visited the IEDCR, she said.
“We'll request those who have symptoms of the disease or arrived here from the affected countries not to visit the IEDCR. Call over the hotline numbers, if necessary. Because, if you carry coronavirus in your body, other people may get infected. The IEDCR team will go to your home and collect samples. We'll report the results through email and phone," she said.
"People carrying coronavirus in the body have the risk of spreading the disease to those already undergoing treatment at the IEDCR or those with whom they're travelling or using public transportation," Dr Flora added.
She warned the expatriates arriving here from the affected countries to comply with the government's request of staying in self-quarantine. “People arriving here from overseas must stay at home quarantine for 14 days. Many are not following the rules. We'll be forced to apply the Law of Infectious Disease if this continues," she said.
DGHS Director General Dr Abul Kalam Azad was present at the briefing alongside representatives from the World Health Organization and Unicef.
The death toll from the coronavirus has crossed 5,000 globally.
According to worldometer, the Covid-19 disease killed a total of 5,082 people around the world as of Friday evening. Besides, it has infected 138,271 people.
Of them, 62,470 are currently infected while 70,719 patients recovered.
The coronavirus has affected 132 countries and territories around the world, and one international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan).
The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic.
India confirmed on Thursday its first case of death from Covid-19 after a 76-year-old man died in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
Besides, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife has tested positive for the new coronavirus, his office announced Thursday night.
The coronavirus has dealt a heavy blow to sports events across the globe with matches of many football leagues, including Champions League, Europa League, English Premier League and La Liga, and cricket tournaments being put on hold.
Although no-one of them tested positive for coronavirus, people, especially Bangladeshi expatriates, who returned home from aboard were being kept in home-quarantine in a number of districts as a precautionary measure to prevent the further spread of the virus.
In Chandpur, a total of 648 Bangladeshi expatriates who returned home recently from abroad have been kept in home-quarantine in eight upazilas of the district till Friday.
Mohammad Abdullah Al Mahmud Zaman, additional deputy commissioner of Chandpur, said the Bangladeshi nationals returned home from different countries in the last 15-16 days.
All of them have been placed in self-isolation at their respective homes following the detection of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh, he said. “They’ve been advised to stay at their respective homes for 14 days.”
Zaman, however, said no-one of the Bangladeshi expatriates tested positive for coronavirus.
He also informed that leaflets are being distributed among people at bus stands, launch terminals and educational institutions in all eight upazilas of the district to make people aware about Covid-19 disease.
Civil Surgeon of the district Dr Md Sakhawat Ullah told UNB that medical teams are ready in all the upazilas to tackle any situation while local representatives have been creating awareness in their respective areas.
In Manikganj, 60 more people were sent to home-quarantine in the last 24 hours till Friday noon, taking the total number of quarantined people in the district to 169.
Dr Anwarul Amin Akhand, district civil surgeon, said those have been put in self-isolation have returned home from abroad in the last five days.
“Although they’re sound, health workers are monitoring them at their homes,” he said, adding that two isolation units were opened at Sadar Hospital to treat any possible Covid-19 patient.
In Kurigram, six people were kept in home-quarantine in Sadar upazila after they have recently returned from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr Nazrul Islam, upazila health and family planning officer, said five of them recently went to Saudi Arabia to perform holy ‘Umrah’. Besides, another youth returned home from the UAE.
Train, bus services suspended
Following India’s decision suspending all visas, barring a select few categories, the existing Indo-Bangla cross-border passenger train and bus services will remain suspended from March 15 to April 15.
Sharif Alam, public relations office of the Railways Ministry, confirmed the new development on Friday.
Earlier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and three private airlines announced to halt all of their flights to India from March 14 to April 15 due to visa suspension.
Passengers’ entry to India Halted
Following India’s decision suspending all visas, barring a few, the entry of passport passengers to the neighbouring country through all the land ports of the country remained halted from Friday afternoon.
All valid visas issued by the Indian High Commission or the Assistant High Commissions of India in Bangladesh on or before March 12 will remain suspended from March 13 to till April 15.
No new visa was being issued from March 13, 2020, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka on Thursday.
The passenger movement through Burimari land port in Lalmonirhat, Banglabandha land port in Panchagarh and Benapole land port in Jashore was suspended at 5pm.
Taskforce at Dhaka Airport
A taskforce has been formed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to help the health desk screen passengers at the airport.
Group Captain AHM Touhid-ul Ahsan, director (security) of the airport, said Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh constituted the 27-member taskforce to deal with heavy pressure of passengers and help the health desk screen them properly.
He said he will lead the taskforce.
23 Bangladeshis Quarantined in India to Return Home Saturday
Twenty-three Bangladeshi nationals, quarantined in the suburbs of Indian capital for 14 days, will return home on Saturday with health clearance certificates.
They will leave New Delhi for Dhaka by a flight of Indigo Airlines on Saturday afternoon with financial support from the government of Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh nationals, mostly students and a family with a kid, went through necessary health check-up on Thursday and no-one was found infected with coronavirus.
"We'll get health clearance certificates on Friday and are hopeful of flying for Dhaka on Saturday," one of the students from the 23-member group told UNB over phone.
They were evacuated from China’s Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, on February 27 by a special Indian Air Force flight with a number of other Indian nationals, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
Bangladesh brought back 312 of its nationals from China on February 1 and the remaining Bangladeshis got registered to return home.
Modi’s Call to Saarc Leaders
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday proposed a strong strategy by South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) member countries to fight the coronavirus threat in South Asian region.
“I would like to propose that the leadership of Saarc nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight coronavirus. We could discuss, via videoconferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy.”
“Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet,” he twitted at 1:47pm on Friday on his official Twitter page.
In another tweet, at the same time, Modi said, “Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it.”
“South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population should leave no stone unturned to ensure our people are healthy,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Friday said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has welcomed Modi’s proposal and look forward to a constructive dialogue with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and other heads of state and government who have already agreed to discuss way forward at this testing time for the region and the world.
He made the remarks in a re-tweet in Modi’s tweet.
BNP for National Unity
BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed on Friday laid emphasis on forging a national unity to create awareness among people to tackle the coronavirus.
“I think we should not only depend on what the government is doing to face coronavirus. We need to forge a nation unity to make people aware (of the disease),” he said.
“Let’s all political parties and professional bodies get united and take programmes to raise awareness among people to tackle the coronavirus. If we can do this, people will be more benefited than the government’s programmes, the BNP leader added.
He made the remarks while speaking at a discussion on coronavirus at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) arranged by Bangladesh Nagorik Odhikar Andolon.
Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, urged all political and other organisations to avoid holding public rallies and meeting now as part of a move to check the virus.
He said the government should also shut down all the educational institutions to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. “All the necessary precautionary measures need to be taken immediately to prevent the coronavirus.”