With 2nd wave of Covid pandemic, Nipah appears another threat to public health

12 November 2020

WHILE the country is still grappling with the first wave of the novel Coronavirus and preparing for a possible second wave of the infection, the threat of a Nipah Virus (NiV) epidemic is looming large over it. The deadly virus that caused repeated outbreaks in the country, with a fatality rate greater than 70%, has the likelihood of spreading not only in the Nipah belt but across the country as well. Even though incidence is low, bats carry NiV across Bangladesh and can shed the virus at any time of the year.
Previous studies said Nipah Virus outbreaks occur almost annually in Bangladesh from November to April and spatial distribution of outbreaks coincide with patterns of raw date-palm-sap consumption. In the last 20 years Bangladesh recorded 319 cases of the virus infection. Of them, 225 or 70.53% have died. Nipah virus spreads in our country through date-palm juice, which becomes available and popular during winter. People living around a place, where bats live, can also be infected with the virus after getting in contact with bats' urine and stool.
The second wave of Covid-19 surges has already pushed many European cities to go lockdown. At least 5,000 passengers are coming to Bangladesh every day from these countries. But, the airport authorities have not yet received instructions from the government. With a limited number of health workers, improper infrastructure and shortage of equipment, the airport authorities are struggling to cope with the pressure of returning passengers.
We earlier see lack of proper quarantining facilities, awareness and preparedness, protective gears, testing facilities, ventilation and hospital service dismayed the response to the outbreak out of which about four and a half thousand returned through Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport only. Recurrence of the same situation, we experienced six months back, for the insincerity of the government must be destructive. And of NiV, which has no vaccine or specific treatment, scientists advised people to refrain from drinking raw date juice to stay safe from the infection.

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