Experts fear fresh Covid wave

Ministry sits today to review situation

SM Najmus Sakib | Thursday, 23 June 2022

The health ministry is going to sit today (Thursday) to review the recent surge in Covid-19 infections as health experts and officials fear a fresh wave of the deadly virus in the country.
The rate of daily infections jumped to over 13 per cent from less than 4 per cent in a week while the daily caseload also showed a five times rise over the previous week as of Wednesday, according to official data.
Dr Md Shamsul Haque, a director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the FE, "The health ministry will hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss the reason of the surge in Covid cases and subsequent preparations, and to consider further strict health guidelines against the rise in infections."
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque is expected to chair the meeting in Dhaka, he said.
The country registered 1,135 new infections and one death on Wednesday with a 13.30 per cent daily infection rate while it reported 232 infections with 3.88 per cent infection rate on June 15, said official data.
The total caseload reached 19, 59,209 on the day. One person died from Covid-19, raising the death toll to 29,134. The current positivity rate is 13.3 per cent while the total positivity rate stands at 13.75 per cent. The recovery rate stands at 97.29 per cent, said DGHS.
Meanwhile, researchers have detected a comparatively more infectious omicron sub-variant.
Experts, in caution, said that the new sub-variant can easily dodge human antibodies or the immune system and spread fast, even infecting anyone who takes Covid vaccines.
Researchers at Jessore University of Science and Technology (JUST) on Tuesday detected the new omicron sub-variant named BA.4/5 in the bodies of two men in the country's Jessore district.
One of the victims is 44 years old and the other is aged 79; one of them took a booster dose of the Covid vaccine while the other received two doses of the coronavirus shot.
The JUST research team also found that the sub-variant showed mutations in amino acid number 452 like the delta variant.
Prof Dr Md Iqbal Kabir Jahid, chairman of the JUST Department of Microbiology and head of the research team, shared the finding of the genome sequencing with the FE.
"The new sub-variant heightened fear as it carries the characteristic of deadly Delta variant. The big concern is that the sub-variant can easily dodge the human immune system or the antibody developed in the human body. People who have taken Covid jabs are also vulnerable to the variant," he told the FE.
The omicron sub-variant was first detected in January in South Africa this year and is blamed for recent waves in many countries including neighbouring India. Now this sub-variant is responsible for 21 per cent cases in the US, he added.
"Therefore, we need an increased caution to avoid any further Covid spike in infection. We have to ensure all the health safety guidelines as many of us are seen thinking that the pandemic is over," the expert said.
"We conducted the sequencing sample collected from Jessore. We could know a border situation if we study samples of other parts of the country. Covid can change its character through mutations and it could happen locally; meaning there could be local variants," he added.
"But we don't know as we don't have sufficient study. We don't even know which variant was largely responsible for the last wave, he said.
Dr Mushtaq Hussain, virologist and consultant of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), also suggested an advance caution terming the new sub-variant as more infectious.
Fearing a fresh wave amid the sharp rise in the Covid infections, he told the FE that vaccines alone can't protect.
"The available Covid vaccines were developed before the variants and sub-variants came through mutation. We hope the upcoming vaccine will ensure more safety from these new variants," said Dr Mushtaq,
"We are witnessing a careless attitude which could be deadlier. However, the government has decided to campaign for more awareness on Covid; certainly ahead of Eid as so many people will leave the capital," he added.
About the new sub-variant, Dr Md Shamsul Haque replied that their expert panel is working on it and following the development. The expert team will prepare necessary guidelines for people to follow, he added.

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