By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, Aug 22 (IANS) The coronavirus infection rate among slum dwellers in Bangladesh is only 6 per cent, it has been found.
The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research and International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research found that the infection rate in the slums is relatively low as most of the residents who are garment workers are regularly monitored for the disease.
When the pandemic first hit the country in March, the biggest threat were millions of the readymade garment (RMG) workers and slum dwellers in Dhaka.
About 3.5 lakh people live in Korail slum of Dhaka alone and there are only two toilets for hundreds of people.
“None of them (slum dwellers) wear masks. But they are less affected. And that’s why in Dhaka Covid-19 is still named as ‘the disease of the rich people’,” Lelin Chowdhury, a health expert and researcher, told IANS on Saturday.
“Those who do not wear shirts and shoes and spend more time in the sun are closer to nature and have higher immunity. People who live in air-conditioned rooms, do not get sunburned, eat more preserved foods, have less immunity,” he added.
IEDCR adviser Mushtaq Hossain said: “The people who live from hand to mouth and the workers of the RMG sector have not been affected by Covid-19 in a large scale yet. This may have been possible due to effective preventive measures taken by the owners and administration of the garment sector.”
Meanwhile, Gazipur Civil Surgeon Md Khairuzzaman told IANS: “We were very concerned about the slum dwellers and the RMG workers. On the basis of this, effective steps were taken to ensure that the factories were operating in compliance with the hygiene norms within a short period of time.
“Most of the RMG factories have adhered to proper hygiene norms. That is why the infection among the workers in this sector has been brought under control in a short time. If that had not been done, maybe everyone’s fears would have come true.”
IEDCR’s newly-appointed Director, Professor Tahmina Shirin said: “From the statistics, we can say that the infection rate among garment workers and slum dwellers is relatively low.”
People from a South Asian background are around twice as likely to have high percentage of anti-bodies to become part of life-saving treatment trials, compared to white people, experts said.
The UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) on Friday issued an urgent call for people of Indian and South Asian heritage who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate their plasma to help save lives of others infected with the deadly virus.