Reopening of shops may increase COVID-19 cases: health minister

Ershad Kamol | Published: 00:04, May 06,2020


Health minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday said that the decision to reopen the shopping malls might lead to an increased number of COVID-19 positive cases.

The 17-member advisory committee would give guidelines soon to minimise the possible risk, said the minister after a meeting with the advisory committee at his office.

‘We will place the recommendations to the government high-ups for considerations,’ he said, adding that the advisory committee would also provide guidelines on homecoming during the Eid holiday.

The committee comprising senior physicians and doctors’ leaders was formed to advise the government to fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

The move came a day after the government announced the reopening of the shopping malls and markets under some conditions to facilitate sales from May 10 ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.

As suggested by the committee, Zahid said, instructions will be passed again to all the hospitals in the country not to refuse patients amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The public and private hospital authorities would be asked to develop internal mechanism so that a patient does not suffer after being referred to an appropriate host, he said.

‘The ministry would also form a committee to monitor and communicate with the hospital authorities,’ he said.

‘We passed the instruction of not denying treatment to patients before,’ he added.

Facilities for testing more people in the fastest possible time would be developed, he said.

Immediately 4th grade employees would be appointed as per the recommendations of the advisory committee, he said. 

Zahid said that the reason behind infection of so many number of health workers would be investigated.

Till Tuesday 1,090 health service providers — 463 doctors, 275 nurses and 352 other staff — were infected with coronavirus, said Bangladesh Medical Association secretary general Md Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury

Several advisory committee members told New Age that they gave opinion for not opening the shopping malls during the Ramadan and to stick to the position of not allowing anybody to leave Dhaka during the upcoming Eid holidays.

They also suggested that the government continued negotiations with the hospitals so that the normal services were not interrupted due to the coronavirus outbreak.

‘We told the minister that the decisions to relax the ban on movements might deteriorate the situation when the number of community transmissions is on the rise,’ Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad president Professor Iqbal Arsalan told New Age.

‘We also told the government to ensure that sufficient and quality personal protective equipment are made available to the health workers and to continue discussions with the hospital authorities to motivate the doctors to give proper treatment to the COVID-19 patients,’ he said.

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