UN warns: two million people could die in Bangladesh

Two million people could die in Bangladesh, UN warns. Photo source: BBC World News
Two million people could die in Bangladesh, UN warns. Photo source: BBC World News
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Moushumi Bhowmik, Dhaka, Daily US Times: The United Nations UN warns that up to two million people could die in Bangladesh from the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic if quick steps aren’t taken to suppress the virus.

The memo, seen by The Daily US Times and titled “Country Preparedness and Response Plan” (CPRP V1), was written collectively by UN agencies, the Bangladesh government, development partners and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the organization’s national chief, Bardan Jung Rana, informed online news website Netra News.

Which calls the cited numbers “astounding”, was circulated earlier this week amongst diplomats in Dhaka.

Bardan Jung Rana, the World Health Organization (WHO) consultant in Bangladesh, has confirmed to that the doc we obtained is an “interagency memo led by WHO with the (UN resident coordinator within the nation) co-leading it.”

“Given the extraordinary human densities in Bangladesh, globally accepted modeling techniques and parameter assumptions forecast the impression of COVID-19 without interventions between half a million up to 2 million lives misplaced in the course of the epidemic wave,” reads the CPRP memo, dated March 26th.

“These figures usually are not shocking when thought-about towards modeling in different international locations however they’re astounding and will function a name to action.”

Bangladesh’s weak health system: UN

The authors of the memo pull no punches and observe that Bangladesh’s weak health system will see significantly in poor health patients, affected by the virus and different illnesses, is left untreated due to “an entire saturation of the health system early within the epidemic”.

They also forecast that there shall be “rampant” publicity of healthcare employees to the COVID-19 virus given the poor “an infection prevention management practices, lack of PPEs (personal protective equipment), and very excessive patient densities in secondary and tertiary care hospitals.”

The CPRP memo also seems to query the knowledge of Bangladesh government’s choice to send an estimated 9 million people out of Dhaka forward of the nationwide shut down on March 26th, stating that this “most probably dispersed incubating and infectious people all through the nation, accelerating the spread of the illness.”

However, the doc also notes how the exodus out of Dhaka could have lessened the COVID-19 case burden within the capital city and distributed it nationally.

The doc notes that the exact number of present COVID-19 cases in Bangladesh is unknown, “however estimated to be important given official reports, anecdotal evidence, and modeling predictions”; and, that “PPE provides stay scattered with healthcare employees and facilities usually unprepared” for dealing with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases, despite latest enhancements at “choose services on the national level”.

The authors of the UN interagency memo prescribe a suppression strategy “to interrupt transmission on the community level and buy time to arrange health amenities.” The call for quick donations of $300 million to fulfill the “important procurement must sufficiently equip and provide the healthcare system for the anticipated inflow of extreme and significant COVID-19 cases.”

The memo includes a 6 point action plan

Noting that “lockdown” alone shall be inadequate to cut back the excessive number of COVID-19 infections in Bangladesh and that only “suppression” of the virus is predicted to ensure enough reduction in contact rate to blunt the epidemic.

The memo includes a six-point action plan: 1. Quick nationwide COVID-19 case looking out and identification; 2. Capability evaluation of all available real-time diagnostic testing services for deploying COVID-19 testing; 3. Urgent procurement of PPE, hospital equipment and different medical supplies; 4. Launching nationwide healthcare employee training aimed at “improving triage, infection prevention, and case management”; 5. Threat communication focused at communities; and 6. Advocacy for maintaining social distancing measures.

Commenting on the measures proposed within the memo, Bardan Jung Rana, the WHO consultant in Bangladesh, informed, “To win, we have to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics— finding cases, isolating and caring for each confirmed case, and tracing and quarantining each close contact.”

He also confirmed that the action plan was “prepared jointly with the participation of the government, UN agencies and development partners.”

The UN warns in the memo, notes that the mixed impression of government actions— social distancing, school, business, and public transport closure nationally— has meant that right now the “COVID-19 reproductive rate (spread rate) shall be at its lowest level since the first spread of the virus in Bangladesh.”

“The globally accepted modeling methods guiding this doc use an assumption of no interventions to stem the spread of the virus as a way to painting the potential magnitude of the outbreak,” the UN warns in the statement.

Lockdown won’t be sufficient to suppress the virus: UN

Some 9 million people moved out of Greater Dhaka— an area of 21 million residents— earlier than the government enforced a 10-day shutdown, canceling Independence Day celebrations, domestic and international flights, and shuttering all schools, offices, and outlets, shop except important services.

However, the UN memo warns that a lockdown won’t be sufficient to suppress the virus and that the government should immediately crank up testing and contact-tracing, procure more hospital equipment and medical protecting clothing, conduct healthcare training programs and community education.

Bangladesh has been agonizingly slow to implement testing and different measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

So far it has confirmed only 54 cases and 6 deaths. It has so far conducted lower than 1000 tests for a population of 160 million. Reports Daily Star

Whereas the UN warns in the memo acknowledged that the government’s failure to lockdown the capital earlier “probably dispersed incubating and infectious people all through the nation”, it also noticed the exodus can also reduce the case burden on overpopulated Dhaka.

The mixed impression of government-imposed social distancing, school, business, and public transport closures nationally meant that the “COVID-19 reproductive rate shall be at its lowest level since (the virus first appeared) in Bangladesh”.

Bangladesh coronavirus test rate lowest in the world

Bangladesh has been testing an alarmingly low number of suspects contemplating its excessive population.

Whereas Bangladesh tests 10 samples per million population, many countries are testing hundreds of COVID-19 samples per million population, some thousands, and a few even 10,000 per million.

On March 16, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press briefing, mentioned: “You can’t struggle a fire blindfolded. And we can’t stop this pandemic if we don’t know who’s infected. We’ve got an easy message for all countries: test, test, test. Test each suspected case.”

However, the info provided by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research (IEDCR), shows Bangladesh has tested 1,602 samples from suspected COVID-19 patients against a total population of over 161 million.

That is about 67 tests a day since common testing started on March 8, after the first three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the nation. Reports Dhaka Tribune

What about the reaction of Bangladesh?

Bangladesh has carried out social distancing policies; shut down malls, outlets, and restaurants; and suspended all domestic and international flights, except flights to and from China, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohammed Shahriar Alam told, including that the nation was working closely with others to fight the pandemic and had received medical supplies from China and India.

“The UN report was based mostly on the assumption of ‘no interventions’,” he mentioned. “As you can very well think about we’ve taken numerous measures.”

However, these relatively low numbers have performed little to quell mounting fears that the pandemic will batter the nation’s economy, with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association saying on Monday that US$3 billion of garment orders have been canceled or put on hold throughout the nation’s factories.

A couple of million garment employees in Bangladesh have already been fired or furloughed due to order cancellations, in accordance with a recent online survey by Pennsylvania State University’s Centre for Global Workers’ Rights.

Mohammed Shahriar Alam, the minister, mentioned in response that 753 health care professionals have been educated to handle COVID-19 patients, and greater than 317,000 pieces of personal protection equipment (PPE) have been provided to health care employees across the nation.

Seven laboratories within the capital of Dhaka are in a position to conduct COVID-19 tests, with an extra 4 in the final stages of being set up, he mentioned. “Enough quantity of testing kits have now been arranged for fulfilling the demand,” he mentioned.

The government has also promised financial help to employees in export-oriented industries, with food and cash to be given to low-income groups for up to six months. “We’ve received testing kits and PPEs for medical professionals from the government of China and the Jack Ma Foundation,” he mentioned.

You can check the UN warns PDF document about Bangladesh from here.