Days after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cautioned against a second wave of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday said the government was ready to tackle the probable second wave of the disease.
"The probability of the second wave cannot be ruled out in our country. All preparations to deal with the situation in case of the second wave are being taken from now on," the minister said, pointing to the second wave in Europe and America while addressing an event during his visit to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
About the progress in the collection of the Covid-19 vaccine, he said, "Nine companies are at the final stage of their trial of [Covid-19 vaccine candidate]. The government is in touch with at least five of them. We want to get the right vaccine at the right time."
On Sunday, the prime minister warned that the Covid-19 situation will likely deteriorate in the upcoming winter, and urged all involved to prepare for another outbreak in wintertime.
During an unscheduled discussion over Covid-19 at the weekly cabinet meeting, the PM instructed the authorities to take precautions for dealing with different cold-related diseases as the winter is set to arrive at the end of October or mid-November.
"She especially gave instructions to take precautions in case the country witnesses a second wave of Covid-19 transmission," said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters at the secretariat after the meeting.
Echoing the PM, the health minister claimed that the health sector showed competency in handling the coronavirus outbreak.
"Bangladesh has maintained a notable position considering the death rate in terms of total number of infected people. The health sector is also prepared to tackle in this way even if the second wave begins," the minister said during the inauguration of 23 development works at DMCH marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
He said, "The risk of corona [Covid-19 outbreak] is increasing in many countries. Many people in our country are not maintaining health rules. But we have to stay aware."
Asked about further lockdowns, the minister said, "There is no decision yet in this regard."
The government is taking steps against corruption in the health sector, he said.
Speaking at the event as the special guest, Prof Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the health directorate, recalled the sacrifice of the healthcare professionals to fight Covid-19.
Presided over by outgoing DMCH director Brig Gen AKM Nasiruddin, Mohibur Rahman, additional secretary of the ministry's health services division, and newly appointed DMCH Director Col Nazmul Haque, among others, spoke at the event.
The death toll from Covid-19 increased as the Directorate General of Health Services reported 37 deaths in 24 hours till 8:30am yesterday.
The total number of deaths has reached 5,044 and the death rate stands at 1.43 percent.
Some 1,666 new infections were recorded during the period, taking the number of infected people to 3,52,287, said a press release of DGHS.
The current positivity rate is 11.77 percent, while the total positivity rate stands at 18.91 percent.
Bangladesh is now 15th in the list of worst-affected countries in the world in terms of the number of confirmed cases.
The position is one step ahead of Saudi Arabia and one step behind the United Kingdom, according to worldometers.info.
Meanwhile, 2,163 Covid-19 patients recovered in the last 24 hours.
The total number of recoveries is 2,62,953, and the recovery rate 74.64 percent.