Eastern Times Correspondent, Dhaka, 24 April: With the Covid-19 situation deteriorating in India, experts in Bangladesh have suggested closing the borders with the neighbouring country to contain the spread of a new and potentially more transmissible variant of the virus.
In a meeting Tuesday, the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 also recommended that the borders should not reopen until the situation in India improves.
“We have suggested that the government seal off the borders with India right away as the situation there is grim,” Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the NTAC, told Our Correspondent.
“If the government does not close the border completely, it must ensure institutional quarantine for all returnees from India,” he said.
Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said, “We have sent our recommendations to the ministries concerned of the government. To avoid any further disaster, the borders with India should be closed now.”
However, the decision must come from the government’s high-ups, he said.
DGHS sources said 610 people entered Bangladesh from India through the Benapole border yesterday.
When asked whether such a double mutant was found in the country, Mushtaq Hossain, an adviser to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, “It is not unlikely as people cross the border frequently. But we have to stress on genome sequencing.”
The noted epidemiologist said genome sequencing should be done rigorously to see which variants were behind the recent surge in Covid cases.
Iqbal Arsalan, another member of the NTAC, said the government should take strict measures to guard against the “Indian variant”.
He also said the meeting on Tuesday also discussed ways of finding alternative sources of vaccine.