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Thursday, May 23, 2024

India variants : To cause new crisis in Bangladesh

Staff Reporter

On April 11, India announced the presence of the new variants, suspended air communication and imposed lockdowns. The B.1.617 variant has been found to be more active in Maharashtra, the epicenter of the current upsurge in India, while the B.1.618 variant has been more active in West Bengal.
More than 20 days have passed since, but no special measures have been taken to ensure health safety at land ports, which are still open for economic and other purposes. Around 650 people entered Bangladesh through land ports and 120 through seaports on Friday and Saturday, according to the DGHS.
The data did not specify how many of the entrants were from India.
So, Health experts in Bangladesh have urged the government to immediately seal the border with India, as it would be a disaster if the two newly discovered Indian variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus managed to enter the country.
The UK coronavirus variant (lineage B1.1.7), South African variant (lineage B1.351), Indian double mutant (B.1.617) and triple mutant (B.1.618) variants are believed to be behind the recent Covid-19 spike in India, according to Indian media outlets.
The two Indian variants might be more infectious than other variants, several genome scientists of India have suggested.
According to health experts, Bangladesh’s healthcare system will not be able to cope with further surges in Covid-19 patient numbers caused by the entry of the Indian variants. Hospitals may be able to deal with the initial wave of patients, but they will soon become overwhelmed.
Infectious disease expert Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, a former director (Disease Control) at the Directorate General of Health Services, told Dhaka Tribune the chances of new variants emerging were higher in areas where the infection rate was high.
“Since the Indian variants appear to be more infectious, there is a chance of more new variants developing in India. New variants pose a significant risk, as they may be resistant to vaccines or treatment, so the government should take strict measures at the borders,” he said.
“All communication with India should be halted for a time, if necessary,” Dr Be-Nazir added, stressing the importance of closely monitoring all entrants from India.
Eminent virologist Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, urged the government to increase genome sequencing research to get an accurate picture of the situation and take appropriate measures.
“With the current set up, it will be impossible for Bangladesh to manage all the new patients the variant could add,” he said.
On April 22 India clamped a ban on industrial oxygen supply to meet the demand for medical oxygen.
Mustain Billah, Chief Executive Officer of Islam Oxygen Ltd, said Bangladesh had the capacity to provide oxygen to all patients at the current rate of Covid-19 infection in the country, but it would not be possible to meet demand if the infection rate climbed any higher.
Former VC of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital (BSMMU) Kanak Kanti Barua said: “The situation in India is worsening every day and there is no sign of when it will stop worsening. The border should temporarily be sealed to stop the new variants from entering.
“The government recently increased the number of hospital beds in the country and hospitals have been facing less of a rush than a week ago, so it would be unfortunate to take a step backwards. The healthcare system might be able to tackle the initial pressure, but it will not be able to last for long,” he added.
Jessore District Civil Surgeon Dr Sheikh Abu Shahin said he was yet to receive any instructions relating to the new Indian variants.
“The district administration is responsible for providing necessary quarantine facilities. Health issues are taken care of by the district health unit of DGHS,” he said, adding that the authorities did not impede passengers who possessed Covid-19 negative certificates and did not have fever.
“No rapid tests are granted here, and they have to go to compulsory quarantine. After that, we conduct a test for these passengers and, if the tests are negative, they are allowed to go. We have found three positive cases in very recent times,” the health official said.
None of the samples were sent to Dhaka to be checked for the Indian variants as no such instruction had been issued, he added.
Although, general peopel with the health experts want Bangladesh should close Indiam border with stick lockdown throughout the country. For that, more measures and administrative planning for all sides especially financial security with food supply should be taken in first consideration.

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