The wrapping of 2020 felt like the end of an era; we seemed to have gotten stronger and more confident with the challenges at hand. We were walking the streets of our communities, slowly going back to our usual lives by adapting to the new rules of COVID-19 when we got struck by the second wave of this nightmare.
The wave reached its peak at the beginning of April, since then the Government of Bangladesh declared strict lockdown to be followed from the 5th. Unlike 2020, a movement pass facility has been introduced by the Government to allow essential movement; civilians did not shy away from it. Movement pass requests surpassed 6 lakhs in the first 5 days. Rigorous checking by the police at security points failed to instil fear in the hearts of people to not come out of their safe haven. Frequent visits to the market and random excuses failed to help the circumstances.
During it all, Bangladesh stumbled upon its favourite holiday, Pohela Boishakh, to enter the high-spirited holy month of Ramadan. The rising COVID-19 cases turned 54 districts of the country into high-risk zones. The positivity rates of the 17 districts have been 31-40% and 21-30% of the 13 others. Among the high-risk districts, those with the highest infection rates are Moulvibazar, Munshiganj and Dhaka where infection rates are 50 percent, 33 percent and 31 percent respectively, while Khagrachhari, Bandarban, and Panchagarh were placed at the bottom with positivity rates below five percent. However, the test positivity rate remains upward despite the fall in samples tested. The latest infection rate was recorded the highest ever in a week, and that too, on a day when the country saw a record 101 fatalities from COVID-19.
With death and infection tolls at 11,705 and 765,596 respectively (till date), Bangladesh dreads the approach of Eid festivities and people’s eagerness to shop. Shops crowd with impatient buyers as the economy shakes on its feet to stabilize.
Since the onset of COVID-19, SAJIDA Hospital Narayanganj signed an MOU with Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh in March 2020 to convert it into a dedicated COVID-19 patient treatment facility. The average daily cost in a general bed and ICU in a government hospital is Tk 12,811 and Tk 51,006, respectively.
The hospital has successfully provided, free of cost, treatment to over 1,000 COVID-19 patients. After having to say good-bye to its successful SAJIDA Hospital, Narayanganj, SAJIDA began its COVID-19 patient treatment operations in Keraniganj.
Leveraging the expertise gained from serving COVID-19 patients of 39 Districts at SAJIDA Hospital, Narayanganj – SAJIDA Hospital, Keraniganj has embarked on its journey to continue to provide quality care to those affected by the pandemic. It is equipped with 22 semi-critical beds connected to a central oxygen port and 6 ICU beds. It has served a total of 93 COVID-19 patients.
Dr.Tariqul Islam, Director, SAJIDA Hospitals, said: “From the very beginning of the operation, we are trying to keep our doctors, nurses and staff safe while providing the best treatment to the patients who have come to us with hearts full of hope. SAJIDA Hospital, Keraniganj plans to provide treatment, free of cost, to 20-30% of its COVID and non-COVID patients who struggle financially to cover medical cost. It is especially important to be supportive to the less fortunate as their lives as just as precious. We’re incredibly grateful to have our efforts and success recognized and want to make sure we’re able to live up to the belief people have had in us on this new journey.”
To ensure quality service and proper monitoring of patients, new staff have been recruited for the COVID-19 Unit: consultants, medical officers, customer care officers, nurses and care assistants. Furthermore, staff vaccination has been accelerated by the hospital as they have started taking 2nd doses to ensure better protection against the virus.
SAJIDA Foundation has also introduced a one-stop hotline number to cater to the healthcare needs for all. Anyone can call at 096-7877-1511 to have all their queries answered. They can access consultation on COVID-19, general health, receive mental health and emotional support, in-home care for elderly and chronically ill, alongside psychiatric and psychological care. During this time of need, SAJIDA has offered a friendly hand to untangle thoughts of despair.
With the number of cases rising, it is imperative to remember to stay diligent and take precautionary measures. Wearing masks, washing hands frequently, social distancing, and avoiding public gatherings are all effective measures that can curb the spread of COVID-19. Neighbours of Bangladesh have presented an opportunity to learn about preparedness. As India suffers and slowly recovers to get back on its feet, our country mourns the loss of the lives taken by this darkness. Celebrations will come in plenty if we can fight off the risks of this pandemic together. Let us spread awareness and support to one another. SAJIDA Hospital, Keraniganj promises to be by the side of its people with utmost care and caution as a beacon of hope in the fight against COVID-19.