Doctors say hotline numbers are a safe means to treat patients and prevent people from gathering at hospitals at this time of Covid-19 pandemic
Kamrul Hasan, a resident of a locked-down area in Shibchar of Madaripur, felt feverish several days ago and feared that he had been infected with the novel coronavirus.
One fine day, while browsing Facebook, he came across a hotline number of his district civil surgeon office. He called the number for medical service.
The civil surgeon received his call and prescribed necessary medication.
Kamrul has now recovered.
Like him, many others of the district, being panicked over the Covid-19, took doctors' advice over the phone. The telehealth service enabled them to avoid crowding hospitals which reduced the possibility of getting infected with the coronavirus.
Of late, hotline numbers have been healing both the Covid-19 panic among the people and the mounting pressure on government hospitals across the country.
They are also helping quite effectively ensure quarantine for the suspected Covid-19 patients.
The district and upazila health offices are spreading the hotline numbers through social communication platforms, local administrations, upazila parishad chairmen and members, and also local press clubs.
And doctors, too, are receiving thousands of calls every day from the people across Bangladesh.
Ashraful Islam Hannan, a resident of Lakshmipur's Ramgati upazila, told The Business Standard that the hotline numbers are playing an important role in easing public panic about the new coronavirus.
"One of my cousins got scared as he got a fever last week. He called a hotline number and the doctor, after getting information about his symptoms, told him that it was a normal flu. Now, he feels well," Ashraful said.
Dr Shafiqul Islam, civil surgeon of Madaripur district, said a team comprising four MBBS doctors has been dealing with the calls on hotline numbers round the clock.
"Our doctors provide medical treatment to the people after hearing about their symptoms. If they think that the problem is bigger, they suggest the people to come to hospital," he said.
"Even sometimes I myself attend to the calls and give the people necessary medical services. We receive hundreds of calls every day," he added.
A patient in Lakshmipur was kept in the isolation unit after the doctor from the other side of the phone suspected that he had been infected with the coronavirus.
"We kept one in isolation in a private hospital and are now trying to send his samples to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research," Md Anwar Hossain, residential medical officer of the hospital, said.
He said they faced a big crowd over the coronavirus fear last week.
"Most of them came to hospital with normal flu. We prescribed medicines, but their number was increasing. Then we planned for a combined hotline service. Now we can work smoothly," he added.
He also mentioned that there was no Covid-19 case in Lakshmipur as of yesterday.
Sayed Younus Nafe, a residential doctor of Lakshmipur Sadar Hospital, said they picked up hundreds of calls from the people about the coronavirus in three days.
Dr Md Tareq Aziz of Pirojpur Sadar Hospital said the hotline numbers help them to a good extent to fight the Covid-19.
"There is no more crowd in the hospital now. If we suspect any of the callers to be a Covid-19 patient, we collect their samples and suggest them to go to isolation," he added.
The doctor also said already two persons in the district have been suspected of having Covid-19, and that they have arranged to collect their samples after receiving calls on hotline numbers.
Siddharth Deb Majumdar, a social worker of Pirojpur, hailed the medical service over the hotline numbers and said it was a timely decision.
"Anyone can know whether he is in danger or not. That [hotline numbers] really works," he added.
Dr Shakhawat Ullah, civil surgeon of Chandpur district, told The Business Standard that they urged the people to stay indoors and maintain all the instructions of the health ministry.
"Isolation and social distancing are two of the most effective measures to prevent coronavirus spread. That is why we encourage the people to call our hotline numbers to get medical services," he said.
"We are always ready to serve the people through hotlines. It is a safe way for us and also the patients at this time," he added.