A new variant of coronavirus has spread to 11 countries. Countries have begun imposing restrictions on international travel to prevent infection. As a precaution, Bangladesh has announced the suspension of communication with South Africa. Public health experts say the health department needs to step in without wasting time.

Although coronavirus infections worldwide declined, there was a risk of new strains emerging and spreading. The World Health Organization says a new type of corona, Omicron, was identified in South Africa on November 9. The new species was first identified in the African country of Botswana, according to the science journal Nature .

A new type was also identified in India in October last year. That type of delta spread very quickly to different parts of the world. The Delta type was identified in Bangladesh on 7 May this year. The first person to be identified was returning to India.

So far, new types of corona have been identified in six African countries, including Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Israel. According to international media, almost every country in Europe has suspended contact with Africa to prevent infection. The United States and Canada have canceled flights to South Africa. Japan and Singapore have chosen the same path.

Health Minister Zahid Malek said the health department was aware of the new type in Africa. “The virus is very aggressive,” he said in a message to the media before leaving for Switzerland yesterday. That is why communication with Africa is now being suspended. Instructions have been given to intensify screening at all airports, land ports or all entrances to the country.

What the World Health Organization has said
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on November 26 that assessments of the new species so far have shown that the new species is spreading faster than its predecessors. This means that there is a risk of spreading the new type of infection.

In this regard, the World Health Organization has advised member states to take four steps: to strengthen surveillance as well as to analyze genes to learn about new species; Complete gene analysis data should be made available to the public; The World Health Organization (WHO) needs to be notified if a new patient is identified or the infection becomes a cluster, and coordination needs to be stepped up to understand the severity of new types of infections, the effectiveness of existing public health and social initiatives, including diagnostic methods.

According to the Department of Health and the Ministry of Health, coronation committees do not meet regularly or are not convened. The last meeting of the eight-member Public Health Advisory Committee was held in October last year. On the other hand, the last
meeting of the Committee on Pathology and Public Health was held in February this year. These committees interpreted and analyzed scientific information on corona as well as advised the government on various issues.

If you want to know about the preparation for dealing with the new type, the director of the disease control branch of the Department of Health, Professor. Nazmul Islam told Prothom Alo that there are points of entry or health check-ups at certain places entering Bangladesh from abroad. Verbal instructions have been given to strengthen the test in those places. If instructions come from the higher echelons of the government, steps will be taken accordingly.

The government’s Institute of Pathology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has a big role to play in identifying new strains of the virus or new patients. IEDCR director Tahmina Shirin told Prothom Alo , “Sample tests are underway. Genes are regularly analyzed from those samples. Hopefully we will be able to identify new types as soon as possible.

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