Unless a patient has breathing difficulties, they should stay at home and take medicines. Only 20 percent patients might have to come to hospital
The country has stepped into the fourth stage of the coronavirus pandemic and this new status demands new strategies to fight the contagion.
The Directorate General of Health Services is yet to make any such revelation to the public but it declared last week that the entire Bangladesh was then facing the risk of the coronavirus pandemic.
Clear instructions must be issued by the authorities concerned with regard to what people with manifestations of the infection should do.
According to guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), tracing contacts of a positive case and placing them under quarantine are no longer required at this stage.
Only patients with fever, cough, and throat pain will go for test, and if found positive, they will be prescribed treatment.
But not all patients have to get admitted to hospital.
Unless a patient has breathing difficulties, they should stay at home and take medicines. Only 20 percent patients might have to come to hospital. In that way pressure on the health system will be reduced.
However, a patient's condition might worsen while staying at home and in that case the government can put in place a mechanism to bring them to hospital from their home. Volunteers can be engaged to make that happen.
All the anti-viral drugs should be made available in the market at the earliest possible time because they have proven records of being useful. Some are on clinical trials.
Alternative tests must also be conducted alongside PCR test, which require less complicated and inexpensive procedures to follow and do not involve a setup as highly sophisticated as PCR lab. For example, the antibody test, that can be done 6-7 days after the appearance of signs and symptoms.
Because it is relatively cost-effective, the 30 percent coronavirus-positive patients who have not shown any symptoms can also be tested in this method to understand how widely the infection has spread.
The antibody test checks how the body's immune system has responded to an infection.
With the help of simple 10-minute training, health technologists even at the upazila health complexes can do these tests.
The only impediment in this regard is a lack of capacity on part of the authorities concerned to make decisions quickly. They are waiting for the WHO's approval of the tests.
Prof Saif Ullah Munshi is a virologist at BSMMU