2020-03-11 02:01:39 BdST

Govt allocates Tk100 crore to fight coronavirus


The government has allocated Tk100 crore as part of its precautionary measures against coronavirus, including preventing its possible spread in the country.   

Health Minister Zahid Malik meanwhile held an emergency meeting with envoys of 30 countries to discuss the coronavirus situation on Tuesday. 

He said at the meeting there should be collective efforts to fight coronavirus by maintaining bilateral relations with the international community. 

According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus is in the second stage in Bangladesh as the returnees from abroad were infected in a very small number. 

The government has taken several initiatives, including keeping the possible virus carriers in quarantine to restrict it from spreading to others.

Panic gripped the country after three coronavirus cases were announced on Sunday. People rushed to pharmacies to buy face masks and hand sanitisers. 

Traders also cashed in on the panic buying by doubling or tripling the prices of those products. 

The Rapid Action Battalion conducted several drives in the capital to prevent the artificial crisis of masks and hand sanitisers, and to check price hikes. Similar drives were conducted across the country.

The health ministry has directed all the authorities concerned to be vigilant in preventing rumours about coronavirus, and to check the increase in prices of masks and other products, the health minister said.

Health experts said it would be very difficult for the government to tackle the situation if the virus reached the third stage – when it spreads among the local people. 
But Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Professor Dr Kanak Kanti Barua said there is little possibility of the virus reaching the third stage. 

He said the infected persons who carried the virus are almost fine now and the suspected patients are in quarantine. 

"There is no alternative but to keep the returnees from abroad in self-quarantine," said Dr Kanak.

He stressed that the government must be cautious and take sufficient initiatives to fight coronavirus. 

The people also have to follow the government's directives and have to help the health ministry, he said.

"It is important for people to avoid public gatherings, and keep themselves clean and aware," the vice-chancellor added.

Health ministry sources said the government had already formed six committees to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The committees include a 31-member national committee headed by the health minister, a national technical committee headed by the director general of the health directorate, two committees in each district headed by the respective deputy commissioners, and two committees in every upazila headed by the respective upazila nirbahi officers.

Health Service Division Secretary Md Asadul Islam said the health ministry is capable of preventing the coronavirus from spreading. 

"We have planned to form 11 committees to fight the virus in all four stages. We are now trying to create awareness among the people," he added. 

Asadul said it was a challenge for the health ministry to prevent rumours about coronavirus that are spreading across the country.  

Committee activities

The 31-member national committee headed by the health minister is observing the situation across the country. It will take immediate initiatives to provide all kinds of emergency facilities to doctors and patients. 

The health minister said the national committee is always ready to prevent the spread of the virus. 

We will do everything, he said.

The national technical committee is working to supply coronavirus detection testing kits across the country. It will also provide the required technical support. 

The district and upazila committees have already kept 200-bed and 30-bed separate hospitals ready, respectively, across the country to receive coronavirus patients. 

They will also help the national committee to keep the foreign returnees in self-quarantine. 

Tk100 crore allocation 

The health ministry has sent a letter to the finance ministry for releasing a fund of Tk100 crore to tackle coronavirus. 

In the letter, the health ministry said it is a must to keep the coronavirus infected patients in the intensive care unit. 

The ministry has taken initiatives to introduce isolation wards, supportive care, testing kits and other instruments. 

5 new thermal scanners at air, land ports

The health directorate on Tuesday supplied five new thermal scanners to the international airports and land ports across the country.

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka got two scanners while Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram and Osmani International Airport in Sylhet got one each.

The Benapole land port also got a scanner. 

13 hotlines opened 

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research has opened 13 hotlines to provide advice on coronavirus.

Director of the institute Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora said yesterday, "We received 2,778 phone calls in the last 24 hours. No new cases have been found."

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