Corona spreads across the country during public holidays: Research

Staff Correspondent,, Dhaka
ছবি: সংগৃহীত

ছবি: সংগৃহীত

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Corona spread in Bangladesh soon after the government announced a general holiday in March last year. The first case of coronavirus infection (Covid-19) in the country was identified on March 8, 2020. To prevent infection, the government declared a general holiday from March 26 to April 4. After the announcement of the holiday on March 23, a large number of people left Dhaka. This was the primary reason for the spread of corona across the country.

The study was announced in a press release issued by the International Center for Diarrhea Research Bangladesh (ICDDRB) on Tuesday (September 14).

The study was conducted by scientists from the government's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), ICDDRB, Ideshi, the Bangladesh government's A2I program, the UK-based Sanger Genomic Institute, the US's Harvard School of Public Health, and the UK's University of Bath. The study was published in the journal Nature on September 4. It discusses in detail the emergence of the first corona in Bangladesh, the role of public movement before and after the lockdown in the nationwide spread of the virus.

The study began in March 2020. Initially, the genomes of 391 coronaviruses collected from different parts of the country were analyzed from March to July 2020. The analysis showed that the first possible coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh occurred in mid-February 2020 and was followed by more viruses through domestic and international aviation.

The first case of coronavirus infection (Covid-19) in the country was identified on March 8 last year. To prevent the spread, the Bangladesh government declared a nationwide public holiday on March 23 from March 26 to April 4. According to data from Facebook and mobile phone operators collected from the Bangladesh government's A2I program, SARS-COV-2 analyzed the genetic characteristics of the public to leave Dhaka between March 23 and 26, showing that outbound travel from Dhaka between March 23 and 26 was the primary cause of the spread of coronavirus across the country.

Professor Tahmina Shirin, Director, IEDCR, said, “Our consortium helps policy makers by providing a lot of important information at different times. These include banning public movement in border areas, restricting the movement of vehicles, enforcing quarantine and isolating travelers from countries where there were alarming variants, making timely lockdown decisions or restricting international movement if necessary. Our consortium has been working tirelessly together since March last year. We will continue to do this and through it we will be able to provide our policymakers with the evidence-based information needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Caroline Baki, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health said mobility data is an important addition to traditional ongoing surveillance systems. This study has shown that data from such a combined analytical study can play a valuable role in making important decisions in a country's health system, which is difficult to achieve in any other way. Such research is important not only for ongoing coronavirus pandemics, but also for any future pandemics. "

ICDDR, B-senior scientist Ferdousi Qadri said that new variants are being created in different countries all over the world through mutations for several months in a row and some of these variants are believed to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. The Bangladesh government is trying to bring all the people of the country under vaccination. To understand the effectiveness of these vaccines, we need to continue such work and help the government to make the necessary decisions with the right information in a timely manner.

The study, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Directorate of Health, provided population data on Facebook Data for Good, Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi Axiata Limited.