Experts fear explosion of coronavirus cases if rules ignored once economy restarts

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-05-29 02:07:23 BdST

Travellers swarm the Shimulia jetty in Munshiganj on Thursday as they seek to return to work in Dhaka at the end of the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday after the government decided against extending the nationwide shutdown over the coronavirus beyond May 30.

Bangladesh will face a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths if it reopens economy without fully implementing the safeguards, experts warn.

The national technical advisory committee to fight the outbreak sounded the alarm in a meeting, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The government has decided to reopen offices and the public transport system on a limited scale. Bangladesh has been hunkered down for two months.

Citing experiences of other countries, the committee expressed fear of a rise in the disease if normal life is restored before the rate of infection comes down to a ‘certain level’.

A rapid rise in coronavirus cases will create heavy pressure on the health care system, it added.

The committee also suggested leaving hydroxychloroquine out of the guidelines on treatment for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization had warned of the risks of using the malaria drug in COVID-19 treatment. The European Union has also banned the drug for COVID-19 patients.

The national committee advised against use of ivermectin, convalescent therapy and other drugs outside clinical trials. It said members of the public should not use those drugs and therapy.

The experts believe the health ministry was right to order all the hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients along with others.

They emphasised the need for administrative and organisational staffing and logistics in preparations for treatment of COVID-19 patients in all hospitals.

The government has decided not to extend the lockdown, which began in the form of a general holiday on Mar 26, after May 30.

Shopping malls were allowed to reopen and some other rules were eased early May ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.

On Thursday, Bangladesh’s coronavirus infections surged past 40,000 after daily caseload crossed 2,000 for the first time. As many as 15 new deaths took the toll to 559.