Rising infection among frontline fighters doubly worrying

Published: 00:00, Jun 02,2020


A LARGE number of emergency service providers and professionals engaged in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in the country coming to be infected with COVID-19 is worrying; doubly so as the country now experiences a sharp rise in the infection and death curve and requires the frontline fighters to give their best. Hundreds of emergency service providers — doctors, nurses, medical staff, law enforcers, bankers, cleaners, people in public service and others — have so far been infected with COVID-19, with dozens having died of the disease. About 2,000 doctors and nurses, around 5,500 law enforcers, over a hundred administrative officials and a hundred bankers across the country, but with a marked concentration in the capital, according to varying estimates, have so far come to be infected with the novel coronavirus, which has infected a total of 49,534 and killed 672 people as of Monday in the country. Besides, a large number of cleaners, who are yet to be included in the COVID-19 risk allowance and who work mostly without adequate protection gears, have also been infected with the virus. Though there is no exhaustive list of the cleaners infected with COVID-19 across the country, about 400 cleaners working for the two Dhaka city corporations, according to the Workers’ Unions of Dhaka North and South City Corporations, have so far been tested positive.

A number of factors such as lack of preparation, not following the prescribed health protocols, shortage of proper protection gears and unawareness among the professionals have contributed to the rising infection rate among them. With the daily infection rate in the country remaining around and over 2,000 for the last two weeks, with the withdrawal of most restrictions, with more people coming out in the streets, with industries and offices reopened, most predictions, both government and non-government, fear a sharp rise in June, which would understandably put the emergency service providers to a test. In such a situation, emergency service providers must first get themselves well-prepared and protected to help people survive the outbreak. A rise in infection, which now so appears, among the emergency service providers would certainly strain the whole state of COVID-19 mitigation affairs. Moreover, it is unacceptable that after almost three months since the first infection cases in the country, the government and the agencies concerned have not come up with effective measures to save the emergency service providers from getting infected. Large number of emergency service professionals who still work without adhering to safety measures and in cases without being provided with protection gears largely add to the risk of infection.   

Realising that the safety of emergency service professionals is a pre-requisite in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and its agencies concerned must take and work on measures to save emergency service professionals. Service providers must also show complete awareness in following the required health safety protocols. Any negligence in the safety of frontline fighters would put all in jeopardy and will cost dearly.

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