The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research on Saturday said that the novel coronavirus that spread to 92 countries after its outbreak in China might enter Bangladesh anytime via travellers coming from affected countries.
The IEDCR urged the people having symptoms of the COVID-19 infection after returning from affected countries not to stay at home indifferently but to contact it or to go to the nearest government hospital.
‘Our strategy is to detect COVID-19 cases as early as possible and put them in isolation,’ said IEDCR director Meerjady Sabrina Flora on Saturday while speaking at the daily press briefing at her office.
The disease monitoring arm of the government said that it would collect samples from the suspected COVID-19 cases from their homes.
It urged the suspected patients not to use public transports either.
Those who feel breathing difficulty have been urged to go to the nearest hospital and contact the IEDCR immediately and those who have mild symptoms may stay at home but only after contacting the IEDCR.
The IEDCR made the call at a time when the coronavirus was spreading fast across the world and has so far infected people in at least 92 countries.
Although none has so far been detected with the coronavirus infection in Bangladesh, the country is at a high risk of being affected by the disease, IEDCR director had said on Wednesday.
At the Saturday news briefing, she said that the government’s strategy focused on early detection and isolation of the patients to prevent spread of the novel virus.
‘Our plan is to isolate the suspected patients as quickly as possible to prevent its spread,’ said Meerjady.
‘If anyone has information about any traveller coming from any affected country having the symptoms should inform the IEDCR,’ she further said.
If you stay indifferent, it will be difficult for us to move for early detection and prevention of spread of the virus,’ said Meerjady.
‘Call our hotlines if symptoms are found in anyone…We will collect samples from homes,’ she said, urging the suspected patients to avoid public transports, which might spread the virus to others.
‘If the symptoms are mild, you can stay at home, only after informing the IEDCR. But if you have breathing difficulty, you should go to the nearest government hospital,’ she further urged.
The symptoms of the COVID-19 infection include fever, coughing, sneezing, breathing difficulty and pain in the throat.
The IEDCR hotlines are: 01937000011, 01937110011, 01927711784 and 01927711785.
In Bangladesh, the presence of the coronavirus in humans can be tested only at the IEDCR, affirmed Meerjady.
‘It requires a sophisticated lab and special procedure to test the presence of the virus,’ she said.
She clarified that if a COVID-19 positive patient was detected at other facilities, the patient might not be isolated properly.
The IEDCR has about 2,000 kits to test the disease and those were provided by the World Health Organisation, she said.
The IEDCR director disclosed that there was shortage of COVID-19 testing kits around the globe.
She revealed that the IEDCR had so far tested 111 people and all of them were found not affected by the virus.
The novel coronavirus, which is believed to have started spreading since late December from a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan that sold wild animals, has so far killed over 3,500 people and infected more than one lakh people, mostly in China.
While most of the deaths and infections have occurred in China, the new infection rate has dropped in that country recently but has increased in other places including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.
Over one crore Bangladeshis live across the world and so far seven of them were infected with the virus—five in Singapore and one each in Italy and the United Arab Emirates.
Three of the five in Singapore have recently been released from hospital as they recovered. The others in Singapore, Italy and the UAE are still in hospitals, said IEDCR director Meerjady.
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