Individuals must ensure self-protection against COVID-19 like war situation

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Dhaka, June 03: Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Wednesday termed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic a war like situation which demands everyone to strictly ensure their self-protection striking a balance between life and livelihood.“We must maintain all health code . . . My protection is in my own hand,” he told newsmen ahead of a meeting with heads of different departments and offices under or attached to his ministry at his Secretariat office here.

Hasan, also Awami League’s (AL) joint general secretary, said the virus did not spare even any country, including the advanced ones, while Bangladesh scenario was better than many developed nations and countries in the neighborhood like Indian and Pakistan.

Referring to the ratio of deaths among infected people in different countries, Hasan said whereas the virus claimed 16 percent lives in western Belgium and 14 percent in the UK; and 3.2 percent in neighbouring India and over 2 percent in Pakistan, the rate is still 1.35 percent in Bangladesh.

“In the United States, where healthcare and economic systems and management are much better, there about 6 percent of total diagnosed patients are dying,” the information minister said.

He said there is no country in the world which has been free from coronavirus. “This is a global catastrophe, we want to deal with this situation with the cooperation of all,” he added.

Hasan said the Prime Minister is dealing with the situation to protect human health and save lives, at the same time in a developing country of 17 crore of people like Bangladesh, all activities have been shut down for more than two months.

“Due to a large and well-planned relief operation led by the Prime Minister, not a single people in the country died from starvation by the grace of the Almighty,” he added.

Hasan said many countries have started economic activities as no country can afford lockdown for long. Many developed states like European countries have started their economical activities, even in India, they opened the public transport, he added.

Replying to a query, the minister turned down the comment of Dr Kamal Hossain that stated the government didn’t protect the lives of people, he said the prevailing situation in the country is much better than neighbouring countries- India and Pakistan.

“With due respect, I would like to say it would have been a proper statement if he (Dr Kamal) could have told that the entire world could not free people from Coronavirus,” he told reporters.

Replying to another query about ongoing protest in the USA after the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who had been pinned down with a knee to the neck by a police officer, Hasan said, “I told about the matter yesterday. I don’t want to make any comment on this issue as it is their (the USA) internal matter. But, as you ask and the USA gives statements and publishes reports on human rights situations of other countries every year, the killing of African-American shows their (the USA) state of human rights.”

The information minister appreciated the activities of journalists who are working as front fighters during the Coronavirus situation. He prayed for the eternal peace of journalists who died of COVID-19 and coronavirus-like symptoms, and sought early recovery of about 200 journalists infected with the virus.

About his ministry’s activities, Hasan said the Information Ministry is working relentlessly to create awareness among the masses on Coronavirus. “The ministry and the departments carry out their activities in limited scale. And we do office as per roaster while other officials are doing office from their residences through online,” he added.

He said the rumour protection cell of the ministry was active from the very beginning of Coronavirus. Some officials of different departments have been affected by the virus, Hasan added.

Information Secretary Kamrun Nahar was present in the meeting, among others.

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