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19 April, 2020 11:30:11 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 April, 2020 11:43:29 AM
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COVID-19 is no curse

Standfirst: The prevailing attitude towards COVID-19 patients is hampering to generate from the society a robust, healthy and humane response towards the disease.
Kazi Mostaque Ahmed
COVID-19 is no curse

A myth that coronavirus is a curse is in the making in Bangladesh and this has to be busted forthwith before it becomes a full-blown one, handling the disease outbreak intelligently in a more humane way. While physical distancing is absolutely necessary to stem the spread of the virus, but the hush-up attitude for COVID-19 patients in Bangladesh, by the IEDCR as well as other organizations where patients are detected, is helping to create a condition in which people of a relatively backward society of Bangladesh are taking the disease as a curse as it was used to be with leprosy patients once. Leprosy patients are still treated with such an unhelpful attitude in Bangladesh.
The prevailing attitude towards COVID-19 patients thus in turn is hampering to generate from the society a robust, healthy and humane response towards the disease. Disclosing identity of COVID-19 patients can contribute to generate awareness among the people around them. But this is not happening.
Many in the responsible positions in society including health professionals are failing to show compassion for COVID-19 patients just because of this attitude. Recently, the authorities of Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital, country’s major health facility to treat COIVD-19 patients now, had to temporarily fire six of its doctors who had showed unwillingness to go near COVID-19 patients and treat them. While this kind of response from doctors is very disheartening even when they had enough protective gear, limitation in testing coronavirus is also contributing to people’s overall sense of insecurity and panic. Outside testing of COVID-19, everyday news of people dying with fever, cough and respiratory problem is surfacing in the country’s mainstream media. Bodies of poor people were found lying on a street or a hole. No one is going near people with these symptoms while they are alive or dead. If testing was adequate, people could be saved from this undignified treatment by their fellow human beings.

Awareness and panic about COVID-19 are two different things. The new disease is highly contagious than seasonal flu and according to the World Health Organization, the R0 (pronounced ‘R-naught’) of the new coronavirus so far seems to hover around 2 to 2.5. But Chinese experts in Bangladesh informed that the virus’s reproduction rate could be between 3 to 4, two to three points more than the flu and the rate of mortality is also higher. This means the people have to protect themselves from the virus by keeping themselves indoors, by hand washing with soap and water or using handsanitiser, maintaining physical distancing while going out for emergency needs and compulsorily using facemask. But while doing so they must not give in to the panic that an apocalypse will fall on them if they contact the virus.

Chinese statistics tells as that more than 80 per cent COVID-19 patients recover after a certain period of time without any treatment. Some need hospitalisation. Only five percent patients need ICU facilities and ventilators to fight the disease. While generation of awareness can contribute to this end, panic creates unhealthy social evils such as hoarding and stockpiling of foods and other essentials items creating their shortage in marketplaces. The poorer section of people will suffer for this.

In western societies some psychologists have very positively suggested that it would be more appropriate to use the term ‘physical distancing’ instead of ‘social distancing’. As human beings are essentially social beings, use of ‘social distancing’ may mean mental isolation from person to person which is not desirable. The relevant authorities including the health ministry and IEDCR as well as media need now start using physical distancing for social distancing.                         

No, COVID-19 is not a curse. Since the disease has no vaccine or therapeutics up until now, it is necessary to fight it through generation of collective awareness and in a more humane and compassionate way. In a country like Bangladesh, where public health care delivery is poor, this is crucially important. Once the vaccine and medicines to treat the disease is discovered, the present helplessness of mankind will be gone. Experts tell us that we have to wait at least one year for an effective vaccine. Until then, besides enforcing the preventive measures such as lockdown and limiting people’s movement even more strictly Bangladesh must fight the myth that coronavirus is a curse which is now in the making. Hushing up of particulars of COVID-19 patients is not only hampering generation of this awareness in a certain way, it is also helping to create panic among people which is unwholesome.  

The writer is Assistant Editor of The Independent.

SH

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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