Awami League leader Obaidul Quader has urged the health directorate to hold at least two online briefings a week on the COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh instead of completely discontinuing the programme.
The road transport and bridges minister made the call during a videoconference with BRTA and BRTC officials from his residence on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.
It came after Health Minister Zahid Maleque announced that the DGHS would dispense with the daily online briefing as it was no longer necessary since the coronavirus situation has “improved”.
Addressing the matter, Quader said, "The health directorate has decided to stop doing bulletins with daily updates on coronavirus infections and deaths. I'd call on the health minister to air this bulletin at least two days a week."
Quader explained that the discontinuation of the daily briefing could create complacency over the risks of the disease while leaving room for the spread of 'disinformation'.
"Therefore I hope the health directorate will consider the matter by taking into the reality of the situation."
Bangladesh launched the daily briefing on Feb 8 when the pandemic began in China and spread to Europe. Initially, reporters were allowed to question the officials at the briefing.
Meerjady Sabrina Flora, the director of the government’s disease control agency IEDCR, became a household name at the time as she appeared in the briefing even after it went online.
The then director-general of health services, Abul Kalam Azad, also appeared some times while Zahid joined from home.
But the directorate on Apr 8 launched the new system stopping journalists from asking questions with the directorate’s Additional Director General Nasima Sultana announcing the number of cases, death toll and other figures.
She conducted the last online briefing on the COVID-19 situation on Tuesday.
The government will now issue press releases instead of the briefing, with the new system being launched on Wednesday, when Bangladesh reported 2,995 new cases and 42 more fatalities from COVID-19.
The latest figures took the tally of infections to 266,498 as the death toll jumped to 3,513.