First 3 cases of coronavirus reported in Bangladesh

|| Published: 2020-03-08 10:25:30 || Updated: 2020-03-08 15:35:24

The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has confirmed that three Bangladeshis have tested positive in the country for Covid-19, a new strain of coronavirus that has killed over 3,600 people around the world.

Three others, who were in contact with the infected trio, are also in quarantine at the moment, IEDCR Director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora disclosed the matter at a press briefing on Sunday.

Two of the three infected recently returned from different cities in Italy. All three are aged between 20 and 35, she added.

Dr Meerjady said one of the two, who returned from Italy, was already infected with the new strain of coronavirus before they arrived here.

“These two are from separate families. Following their arrival, they had gone to their homes. Afterwards, they called our hotlines to get tested. Later, they tested positive for Covid-19.

“After that, we started testing those who came into contact with them, and that is how we found the third patient,” the IEDCR director said.

She further said: “The trio are now undergoing treatment at a hospital, and for security reasons, we are not disclosing their identities and addresses at the moment.”

As of now, more than 106,000 people have been affected by coronavirus across the world, since the strain spread from China’s Wuhan city at the end of December last year.

Addressing the general people, Dr Meerjady also said there was no need to panic right now and the government hopes to keep the situation under control.

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“It is not the time to say that the virus will spread across the country and there is no need to shut down schools and colleges at the moment,” she stressed, while responding to questions from reporters.

She, however, asked people to avoid public gatherings and suggested to mostly stay at home, and follow the precautionary measures which were given by World Health Organization (WHO) earlier.

On March 4, in a bid to prevent Covid-19 from spreading into Bangladesh, the government restricted entry of people from four countries — Italy, South Korea, Japan, and Kuwait — without the virus-free medical certificates.

Since January 21, a total of 479,008 incoming passengers were screened at land, sea, and airports across Bangladesh, but none of them were found infected.

Virus spreading

The outbreak began in Wuhan, a major transportation hub as well as central China’s main industrial and commercial centre, and has now spread to other major population centres, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and many other countries around the world.

There is no known cure for the virus. However, different institutions in China and other countries, including the US, are working on coming up with a vaccine for the virus.

Migrant workers, mostly from Bangladesh, queue to collect free masks and get their temperatures taken in Singapore on February 23, 2020 | Reuters

Chinese authorities are still investigating the origins of the virus, though they confirmed the outbreak began at a market in Wuhan with illegal wildlife transactions, and that it can spread from one person to another via respiratory transmission.

Airports globally stepped up screening passengers from China, and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said in a risk assessment that further global spread of the virus was likely.


People infected with the novel coronavirus usually shows a number symptoms, which include fever, difficulty in breathing and cough, similar to many other respiratory illnesses, and can cause pneumonia, and kidney failure.

How to protect yourself

WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:

● Cleaning hands frequently by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water

● When coughing and sneezing, one has to cover one’s mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. After the use of tissue, it has to be thrown away immediately into a closed bin and one has to wash hands

● Avoiding close contact with anyone who has fever and cough

● If a person has fever, cough and breathing difficulty, he/she has to seek medical care as soon as possible and share previous travel history with the health care provider

● When visiting markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, one has to avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals

● The consumption of raw or under cooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

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