As the Covid-19 virus wreaks havoc on countries around the world, it is a blessing that the situation in Bangladesh is not yet as dire as Italy, Spain, or the US, the latter expected to become the next epicentre of the novel coronavirus.
We should not, though, count our eggs before they are hatched. This is a crucial time, and what we do now could determine how many lives the virus will take in this country.
Even though people in Bangladesh, for the most part, have been able to adhere to WHO’s recommendation of maintaining social distance -- with the government enforcing a 10-day general holiday to that effect -- we now have entered a pivotal period when it comes to the spread of the virus.
Our health experts have stressed the urgent need for caution right now, as community-level transmission of the coronavirus has already begun on a limited scale, and the next 10 days will determine a lot of things.
To that end, the PM’s recommendation that the ongoing holiday be extended should be upheld.
In her recent speech, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina revealed that 19 of the 49 confirmed patients have recovered, and an extension of the general holiday would help minimize the spread of the disease any further.
While the actual number of those infected may well be more than the official number -- as our testing model still remains grossly inadequate and limited in scope -- an extended period of social distancing would definitely help slow the spread of the virus.
We have been relatively fortunate so far, but this is a time for extreme caution, not complacency. Let us do the right thing at this critical moment.