Bangladesh authorities remain silent about crucial missing Covid-19 case location data

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Netra News

Netra News 21 June 2020

The Daily Star newspaper in Bangladesh has followed up on two recent reports by Netra News that the Bangladesh authorities have no information on the geographical location of nearly half of all the people who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.

The Bangladesh government authorities are however still refusing to officially acknowledge this significant information gap.

In its top story, titled, “Whereabouts of The Infected: DGHS has no clue about half of them”, The Daily Star reported today that:

Contacted on Wednesday, Prof Abul Kalam Azad, director general of the DGHS told this correspondent to ask IEDCR Director Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora about the matter.

She, however, was not available for comments yesterday.

However, off the record an official did acknowledge the problem to the newspaper:

An a2i official admitted that the project did not have location data of around 30–40 percent of the confirmed cases.

In the original Netra News report, we wrote:

The lack of reliable data on the distribution of cases could have significant implications for government policy going forward — as how will it know where are the Covid-19 hotspots if the government does not know the location of the confirmed cases?

And this concern has been confirmed by an expert contacted by The Daily Star:

Infectious diseases specialist Prof Ridwanur Rahman said, “If we do not know the location of the patients, how would we be able to control transmission through lockdowns?”

Lockdown, testing, tracing and isolating are the keys to controlling the outbreak. “Accurate data is the main tool for success here.”

Will other Bangladesh media recognise that this significant story needs to be follow up?

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Published both in Bengali and English, Netra News is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit platform of reportage, analysis and debate on Bangladeshi politics, society and culture. It has been set up to pursue public interest journalism. Our principal audience is expected to be the Bangladeshi public, within the country and in the diaspora, but we also aim to be an important source of information and analysis for a wider international audience. The editorial office of Netra News is located in the Swedish city of Malmö, and it is registered as an online publication with the Swedish Press and Broadcasting Authority. Netra News is a project of Bangladesh Media Network, which is overseen by an organisational board: Kerstin Brunnberg (journalist, Sweden), president Bina D’Costa (academic, Australia), secretary Dan Morrison (journalist, United States), treasurer Netra News is currently supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy. Responsible publisher (ansvarig utgivare) & Editor-in-Chief: Tasneem Khalil BMN/Netra Media Evolution City, Stora Varvsgatan 6A 211 19 Malmö, Sweden