As the ‘super mutant’ Omicron strain of Covid-19 is spreading fast in many countries displacing the previously dominant Delta variant, experts warned that Bangladesh is all but certain to see a fresh wave of the deadly virus.
They also cautioned that the Omicron may take a heavy toll on over 8 crore unvaccinated people, mainly the kids and elderly people, if there is an outbreak of the Covid variant in the country amid people’s serious apathy to wear masks outside and maintain health safety rules.
Since Omicron is three times more transmissible than the Delta, the analysts advised the government to tighten the enforcement machinery to force people to follow all Covid-safety protocols alongside properly screening the incoming passengers through air and land ports and ensuring their quarantine.
They think all the incoming passengers coming from the Omicron-hit countries should be kept in institutional quarantine to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Covid variant.
Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, ex VC of BSMMU, Prof Dr Mushtuq Hussain, IEDCR’s consultant, and Prof Dr Bijon Kumar Sil, head of Gono Bishwabidyalay’s Microbiology department, made the observations while talking to UNB.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque also voiced concern that the Covid infection may spike in the country since most people do not wear masks and follow hygiene rules.
The country has been witnessing a steady rise in Covid cases for the last few days and the two first Omicron cases were reported here on December 11.
Possible fresh wave
Noted Virologist Professor Dr Nazrul Islam said two people in the country have already been identified with Omicron variant. “So, its wave may come to Bangladesh, and we’ve to be very careful about those who are coming from abroad.”
He said the Covid infection has started increasing again and it may continue to grow slowly till February next. “The country is likely to face a fresh wave in March with the rise in temperature. The number of cases will go up alarmingly in the middle of that month.”
The expert said usually Covid infections remain low during winter due to the intervention of many other respiratory viruses and flus like influenza.
Prof Mushtaq Hussain said Bangladesh is at a high risk of witnessing a wave of Omicron in the days to come like the African and European countries. “Omicron is already in the community transmission stage in some African and European countries. So, there’s no reason to think that Bangladesh would not experience an outbreak of Omicron,” he said.
Though there is no fresh case of Omicron after two imported ones in the country, he said the infection rate may continue to surge after a few days.
“After the coronavirus infection was detected in Wuhan, China, and Delta strain in India, many people thought that it would not come to Bangladesh. But they were proved wrong. So, we fear a community transmission of Omicron in Bangladesh.”
Noted microbiologist Bijon Kumar Sil said Omicron will gradually spread to different areas of the country after deepening its roots.
He said Omicron has spread to over 100 countries within a month, showing its highly contagious nature. “So, I don’t think we’ll get rid of this virus. There may be some unidentified people in our country that is why the infection rate is now showing an uptrend.”