Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Malik, MP, said that it was not his only duty to sit inside the secretariat office amid this coronavirus pandemic, reads a press release from the health and family welfare ministry on Thursday.
"The real job is to check what is going on in hospitals across the country, if people are returning from hospitals without treatment, if the doctors, nurses, and health workers are having any trouble, and check many more issues," he said.
The minister made the remarks while having an unscheduled meeting with senior officials of the ministry at the secretariat on Thursday morning, reads the statement.
The health minister also termed a news - published in a daily titled "Health minister is not in office"- as false and provocative.
He also pointed out that headline of the story contained mistake.
Basically, the newspaper story said, "On last May 25, it was the Eid-ul-Fitr. The minister was irregular in the ministry since the Eid holiday."
In this context, the health minister said, the real incident is that the public relations officer of the health ministry has been infected by Covid-19 since May 27. So, he was in hospital and home quarantine until June 24.
Earlier, the minister had isolation for 14 days as his personal secretary tested Covid-19 positive.
Besides, Ali Noor, the health education secretary and his family members were affected by coronavirus; the wife of Health Services Secretary Abdul Mannan died of Covid-19. The Director General of the Department of Health Prof Dr Abul Kalam Azad was also affected by coronavirus.
At present, there are 45 people in the secretariat - including three in his office, additional secretary, joint secretary, deputy secretary, assistant secretary and other employees of the ministry - are affected by the coronavirus, reads the press statement.
In such a situation, it is important similarly to work online to implement instructions, said the minister.
It is mentionable that the cabinet secretary advised the health minister twice not to attend the cabinet meeting as the minister had high risk of Covid-19 infection.
Even, the health minister had to leave a meeting without attending it.
During the government announced public holidays, the health minister, secretary of the Department of Health, Director General and all other health officials, employees were engaged in regular health care without enjoying any leave, adds the press release.
Since the affected public relations officer, secretary, private secretary, and others are close to the health minister, the minister had to go for home isolation from June 1.
The press release said that the newspaper headline pointed out that particular moment as "the health minister is not in the office" when he was in home isolation.
In fact, during the home isolation, the minister has given necessary directives to the doctors and officials of every district and upazila hospital across the country.
Even the health minister conducted view sharing meetings on a daily basis with the director general of health, secretary, hospital directors, civil surgeons, specialist physicians even before March 8, when the first Covid-19 infected patient was found in the country.
Later, he continued the directives through online video conferencing.
In this regard, drawing the attention of the reporter of that newspaper, the minister said, "If I had remained inactive, how there are 66 testing labs as it was only one, before?"
He continued, "How it increased from 100 testing to 15 to 19,000? How in just 15 days, there is a 2,000-bed in Bashundhara; 3,000 beds in North City Corporation Market and Uttara Dia Bari? How the private medicals like Anwar Khan Modern Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, Sikdar Medical are now testing samples of Covid-19? How it is made mandatory for all the hospitals across the country to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients?"
The minister also pointed out that the ICU facilities were spread from Dhaka to the district towns, and 2,000 new doctors and 6,000 nurses were appointed in just 10 days.
On the other part, Health Minister Zahid Malik said that he was also working on setting up Central Oxygen in at least 70 hospitals, online teaching in medical colleges, launching online examination system, making updated lists of vacancies available for doctors and nurses in all hospitals, reads the press release.
Despite all his engagements, the health minister followed the health directives properly.
Not a single government file was pending for a day, and he performed his governmental activities every day.
However, in his statement, the health minister also said that people are getting confused about such news stories published in newspapers, adds the press release.