COVID-19 : Unseen enemy

প্রকাশিত: ৬:৩৩ অপরাহ্ণ, এপ্রিল ১৩, ২০২০

COVID-19 : Unseen enemy

By Dr. Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil)

As the unseen enemy dictates the terms of our lives these days, several words that were previously absent in our vocabulary like coronavirus, COVID-19, quarantine, epicentre, lock down and so on so forth have become part and parcel of our daily lives.

We were the 104th country or territory in the world to be struck by SARS CoV-2, the fancy name that has been given to the virus that is now causing havoc in every nook and corner of the globe. One hundred and two more countries and territories have since been added to this ever expanding list of COVID-19 invasion, since we in Bangladesh reported our first COVID-19 cases little more than a month back on 8 March, 2020.

This deadly menace was initially imported to Bangladesh by some expatriates living in Italy. Although European countries like Britain and Spain are now also sharing the heat with Italy, as the impact of COVID-19 continues to grow, no other country in Europe and in fact in the world is yet to be affected more than Italy.

While many in Bangladesh and also in few other countries will correctly blame the Italians for exporting the deadly bug to their respective countries, it naturally comes to mind whom are the Italians blaming for making them the champions in COVID deaths? With Italy witnessing the ‘worst of the worst’, many are pointing their fingers to the Chinese immigrants residing in Northern Italy, which is the hub for the country’s elite leather goods industry.

The textile and leather-good factories in Northern Italy have been attracting significant Chinese investment over the years. It has been estimated that more than 100,000 Chinese live in Prato alone, which is an industrial suburb of Florence.

Many of these Chinese are from Wuhan and Wenzhou and therefore it is no wonder that until the recent ban on global travel, direct flights were operating between Wuhan and Northern Italy. This possibly explains why Northern Italy is ‘Europe’s hotspot’ for Covid-19. The location and timing of Italy’s corona virus outbreak suggest that the disease was possibly imported to the country from China.

In fact it has been suggested that a 38 year old man in the Northern Italian province of Lombardy, who had showed up at a local hospital with respiratory problems, had to wait for 36 hours before he was tested for corona virus. By the time he finally hot tested and was found to be positive, he came in contact with hospital staff, friends and family. This gentleman had allegedly directly and indirectly spread the virus to many in that region.

The obvious question that can be raised is how did this gentleman in Lombardy get the virus? Why Northern Italy and why not somewhere else? The answer probably lies in the fact that Lombardy and Tuscany are the two Italian regions that have seen the most Chinese investment. Therefore the question that obviously comes to mind next is whether COVID-19 is the price of development or not?

There is another twist to this issue. A recent VOA report mentioned viewing of dolphins off the coast of Cox’s Bazar city. When someone first told me about it, my initial reaction was that it was nothing more than one of those Facebook ‘like hunting’ rumours that we so frequently come by these days. In fact it took me quite some time to accept that it was real, even after I saw the VOA report with my own eyes. Subsequently many such reports have emerged from different parts of the world.

Deer have been seen taking to the streets of the Japanese city of Nara from its parks, while ducks have been seen in the tarmac of Tel Aviv’s international airport. As the skies over Beijing and Shanghai become so clear that none can remember of, it has been suggested that the glaciers in both poles may cease to melt and our environment may time travel back 500 years in the bygone past.

Running after development and prosperity, we humans had become so mechanised that we were willing to hand over own intelligence to the artificial ones. We had been ignorant of humanity and moral values to such extents that in the name of unhindered development we had allowed refugees to drown and die off the shores of the most developed continent.

Least did we bother to pay any attention to the statement of the Syrian refugee kid, covered all over with blood from his wounds from bomb blast, who said before breathing his last that he would tell everything to the Almighty! May be this ‘COVID-19 lesson’ was mandatory for us to remain civilized and for mankind to remain and reign on the planet named earth for many thousand years to come.

Dr. Mamun Al Mahtab : Chairman of Hepatology, BSMMU, Advisor of

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December 2021