Dhaka, Banglaesh || Tuesday, 7 April 2020 || 22 Choitro 1426
The other face of corona
Professor Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil)
Published : Tuesday, 24 March, 2020 at 10:01 PM, Count : 98

The other face of corona

The other face of corona

In this era of face book and messenger, we often get up from sleep in the morning with the beautiful messages that we receive everyday. From flowers to quotations and from cartoons to jokes - what’s not there? Touch phone users like me in today’s digital Bangladesh have to rush to office day in and day out, while admiring the creativity of our fellow countrymen.

This is the daily routine of most office goers like me these days. These texts are usually based on recent developments and happenings around us. One such recent message from a dear one recently stated that corona virus is not going to do any harm to us as we are very familiar with “koronas” meaning “don’t dos”. Our childhood, our youth and now our middle age is passing listening to parents, family and friends, “eta korona, otakorona” i.e. “don’t do this and don’t do that”. 

Amazing sense of humour! Can’t just stop admiring! However not everything in the virtual world is so humorous and innocent. There is another face to this story. However before concentrating on that other side of the corona story, it is important that as a physician I once again remind you of the dos and don’t dos about corona.

We must adopt to some changed habits if we are to stay safe from SARS cov-2 and COVID-19, the disease that this new member of the corona virus family causes. We must cover our faces with tissues or handkerchiefs, but better with our elbows. We have to wash our hands repeatedly and for that soap is good enough, no need to run after the disappearing hand sanitizers. 

We must not spit here and there and if we develop common coldlikesymptoms, we must seek medical advice from medical practitioners. And in case we have returned from overseas, we must put ourselves under self quarantineat home for at least fourteen days. Finally we must avoid mass gatherings, including places of worship, and while taking food, our meat, fish and eggs should be well cooked.

However, as I have mentioned earlier, this is not the purpose of my writing this article. I have seen many people appearing before the media these days with or without in depth knowledge, but claiming to be corona experts, just to acquire name and fame the easy way. I understand that psychology very well. Even that is not important to me. 

What is bothering me these days is that a section of our politicians are trying to add to the confusion prevailing around us with corona issue. They are continuously blaming the government on TV talk shows and at seminars at the National Press Club for failure in handling the corona pandemic. It has become their routine duty these days. I, on the contrary, would like to thank my government for whatever measures that have been taken. Human beings have never experienced a pandemic of this magnitude in it’s recorded history. 

We may recall Spanish flu, Hong Kong flu, bird flu, swine flu, SARS, MARS or even the black death of Europe many centuries back - it’s true that many more people may have suffered and many more have perished in many of those, but the fact remains that in none of those cases, were so many countries and territories on the face of the globe effected. 

It was destined that COVID-19 will appear at our premises. I will thank the government that we were the 104th country to be effected and not the 4th one! I have heard politicians saying that the government will declare corona cases only after the birth centennial of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur­Rahman. 

And when it didn’t happen, rather when the celebrations were curtailed and the cases announced immediately as they were diagnosed, then they started chanting that hundreds are dying, but the announcements will only come after the 17th. 

Nice joke indeed! In a country where you can make people see a war criminal in the moon or where still “Borhan­Uddin” can happen in this modern era by simply hacking the social media, such narrative will appear childish even to a child. Hundreds of people will die and that it will not become viral in the social media - sorry I am not ready to buy this story!

Rather to me the government has been proactive on many occasions. Just recall when the US government suspended international air travel or when the Europeans closed the schools, browse the internet and try to find out when countries in Europe came under lock down or when the Malaysians banned mass gatherings even for religious purpose - the answer is only after several deaths. 

On the contrary, our government took all these measures while our patients are still going back home after recovery. Home quarantine is a recognized measure to combat this type of situation. Unfortunately it so appears that many of our fellow countrymen have little respect for this. It is extremely sad that many of them are returning home to get married or to enjoy extended holiday with relatives back home using the corona issue, but calling the country names at the same time. 

They happily abide by the strict nationwide lockdown in Europe, but create such nuisance immediately on return that the government is forced to deploy military to handle the situation! Shame on them! I sometimes think that God forbid if the worst happens in this country, it will be we who are to be blamed and the government.

It is not that the dirty corona game is being played at home only, the same is also taking place abroad, in our region and beyond. Recently the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India invited the SAARC heads of country and government to a live video conference to combat COVID-19. It took interest in the matter not only as it was related to corona, but also because it was an attempt to revitalize SAARC after some while. I watched the live broadcast of this video conference on BTV.

Absence of the Pak PM did undermine the conference to some extent, but I was rather happy, as I did not have to watch Paki PM Mr. Imran Khan Niazi,the nephew of “Butcher of Bengal” Lt. Gen. Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi on the screen. The conference was progressing well and as it was heading towards a very successful ending, the gentleman representing Pakistan at the conference, the Health Advisor to the Paki PM with the rank and status of a State Minister simply poured water to it, when he from nowhere brought up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Some details about this Mr. ZafarMirzais now appearing before us, thanks again to the social media. Corruption charge of smuggling 20 million face masks out of Pakistan, depriving his own countrymen is now under investigation against him. It is therefore no wonder that this ISI puppet is bound to dance as per direction by the ISI.

If you don’t like to believe me, please go to You Tube and check the video of that video conference once again. If you watch carefully you will see that suddenly a gentleman appears on screen, who takes away a sheet of paper from his table. A second sheet of paper is then supplied to him from the left corner of his table. 

The Kashmir issue was possibly written on this second piece of paper, which he read out only to ruin the show, which under the initiative of Hon’ble PM NarendraModi and with the proactive role of Hon’ble PM Sheikh Hasina was truly about to make history in the global media. This nasty game by the Pakis and their local disciples must be taken into account seriously.

The purpose of my writing this article on the corona issue against the tide is to highlight the fact that preparedness against corona on only the ‘health and economic frontiers’ is not enough.We have to concentrate on the ‘media aspect’ of it too. Chinese diplomats all over the globe have contributed 400 interviews and 300 newspaper articles in the recent times to save the face of China. 

The national task force constituted in China to tackle corona menace comprises among others of a single physician and a single economist, but two media experts! This possibly shows the importance of media perspective of the COVID-19 story. I am sure that our preparation on the health and economic frontiers is satisfactory, however we have to dedicate some attention on this aspect also, aswe can not leave the ground unguarded for someone to make a foul and put us in some unexpected trouble.   


Professor Dr. Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil), Chairman, Liver Department, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University & Member Secretary, Sampritee Bangladesh



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