Bangladesh doctor urges citizens to mask up amid 'fourth COVID wave'

A leading doctor has advised citizens to wear masks properly to avoid coronavirus infection in the wake of an uptick in cases amid what he calls is the "fourth wave" of COVID-19 in Bangladesh.

Published : 27 June 2022, 06:30 PM
Updated : 27 June 2022, 06:30 PM

ABM Abdullah, professor emeritus at Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, however, does not think harsh measures like a lockdown will be required to tackle the rise in cases.

"We cannot disrespect the health rules. We must wear masks all the time. There's no alternative [to wearing masks]," he said in his keynote speech at a discussion organised by the University Grants Commission in Dhaka on Monday.

Researchers have recently detected omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 in samples from locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus in Bangladesh.

Chinese test-tube experiments showed those newer sublineages "notably evade" the neutralising antibodies elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination.

"The new sub-variants spread fast and widely. A patient infects around 10 people," said Dr Abdullah. "But you don't need to panic," he added, noting that the government has almost achieved the vaccination target.

"This is my request for everyone: please wash hands frequently, keep physical distancing and follow other health rules properly."

Bangladesh has registered 2,101 cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8am on Monday, the most since Feb 19, taking the overall tally of infections to 1,967,274. Another two fatalities were registered in the daily count, taking the death toll from the disease to 29,142.

As many as 13,820 samples were tested across the country, for a positivity rate of 15.2 percent.

The case positivity rate dropped below 1 percent following a wave of cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant of the coronavirus. The daily count of cases fell below 10 while no deaths were reported for 20 days in a row.

Infections, however, began to rise in early June. The government started reporting deaths again some days ago.

It ordered educational institutions to strictly enforce mask rules after the national expert panel recommended restoring preventive measures to counter the new rise in COVID-19 cases.

The National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19 on Jun 16 suggested that COVID-negative certificates and vaccination certificates be made mandatory for travellers coming to Bangladesh.

It also pressed for restrictions on public gatherings, compulsory mask-wearing and reintroduction of the 'no mask, no service' policy.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher