Corona : Bangladesh fares relatively better

Publish: 8:55 PM, September 17, 2020 | Update: 8:55:PM, September 17, 2020

It is no overstatement that Bangladesh which is the eighth most populous country in the world enjoying also the distinction as one of the several very densely populated countries as well, its number of deaths from corona virus as well as the number of infected cases by world comparisons, continue to be mild to say it euphemistically .

Even next door India which was far trailing USA, Brazil and others in its corona related distresses, is now at the top of the list in daily infections. Some 70 or 80 thousand people in recent weeks in India, on average, have been infected by Covid-19 daily and the number of deaths daily soared to 5 to 6 thousand . In contrast, Bangladeshi daily death tolls never crossed 50 in number all through the period when the pandemic has been raging. Its total number of deaths from Covid-19 is also below 5,000. The contrast with Bangladesh would be shown much bigger if the comparison is drawn with USA, Brazil and some other countries. Thus, there has been much speculation and conjecture about how Bangladesh has remained seemingly much less affected when so many countries have been reeling under the Corona juggernaut .

Recently, preprint journal, MedrXiv, published a couple of reports where they stated COVID-19 has been detected more in developed countries compared to developing ones. Some experts believe the outbreak of novel coronavirus depends on environmental factors such as air temperature, pH – a measurement of the potential activity of hydrogen ions – and relative humidity.

Even though some African countries and even India have reported a large number of cases, majority of the infected countries have a lower temperature than that of ours. There is a speculation that high temperature perturbs the conjugation of COVID-19. Thus, our average high temperature might be an advantage for us.

Generally, the viral infectivity is completely lost after a 14-day incubation period at 22, 33, or 37 degrees Celsius and the virus may remain stable at four to 10 degrees. In a study in 1989, a group of researchers also found that the chances of survival of the virus in low temperature is high.
Many scientists believe that the coronavirus will not survive long in warmer environments. Hence, we may consider COVID-19 as a temperature-sensitive virus like the other variants of the coronavirus family, including SARS and MERS.

How does temperature kill coronavirus? Most of the viruses are made up of a nucleic acid molecule inside a protein shell called ‘capsid’ and covered with an external membrane outside the shell which is sensitive to high temperatures. If the temperature increases, it is believed that coronavirus might float in the air. There it can survive for only a short time and our bodies might not be infected.

Another possible reason for low prevalence in Bangladesh is that our immune system is boosted. Bangladeshis can easily adapt elsewhere in the world when they travel, without catching any major illness. If a Japanese individual visits Bangladesh for a couple of months, they feel uncomfortable due to the humidity and hot temperature, albeit, that is not true for everyone.

However, the still controlled cases of Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh ought not to breed a sense of complacence. The march of COVID-19 reminds us how helpless we are against nature. If we do not pay attention to prevention issues , we may face a difficult situation only weeks from now. Winter is probably only a month away and the temperature is likely to fall a great deal in the coming winter months. This would create an environment for the deadly virus to revive and claim more victims. Therefore, it is imperative to gird up our loins and take proactive steps from right now, specially in view of the fact that a relatively carefree environment is noted, as if the corona virus has disappeared in our country.

Looking around in the roads and streets of Dhaka city the scene is plain for everybody to see : hordes of people are seen most uncaringly moving around with no masks and hand gloves, paying scanty or no attention to the need for observing social distancing. In public places, the earlier interest in persuading people to use spray hand sanitizers, is also noted to be waning. Most importantly, hardly activity is seen on the part of policemen and other law and order enforcers to compel people to go for these safety measures if they do not do the same on their own. Therefore, it hardly needs even stating and reminding all of the maxim of ‘ it’s better to be later than never.’

Our administration needs to be sensitized even at this late hour to go all out to ensure that people are obliged to heed thoroughly the personal safety measures during the pandemic. Any further delay in the matter could invite a much greater tragedy of deaths and no alternative but to reimpose lockdown with crushing effects on the economy.

Providence so far has favoured us by keeping our corona related miseries limited. We must do whatever things can be done on our own to build up on this Providential advantage to be able to ensure the steady phase out of the Corona virus in the months ahead.