While the country reported 14 more dengue deaths on Saturday – including 8 in the capital – Health Minister Zahid Maleque took up a glass-half-full approach, pointing to the declining rate of the infection in different parts of the country, including Dhaka.
"The infection and death rate will further decline if people become more aware of the mosquito-borne disease and maintain health guidelines properly," the health minister said while talking to journalists at his residence in Chandair village of Manikganj Sadar upazila this afternoon, reports the BSS.
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) also reported that at least 2,425 dengue patients were hospitalised in the 24-hour period.
Dengue has so far claimed at least 989 lives this year and nearly 2,03,406 were infected, making this the deadliest year since the first recorded epidemic in 2000.
On 20 September, Bangladesh witnessed 21 dengue deaths, the highest in a single day this year and it also saw the same highest figure on 2 September.
"The death toll from dengue infection crossed the 900-mark as the authorities recorded 989 dengue deaths between 1 January and 30 September this year," a press release from the DGHS said.
Amid precautionary measures and eradication of mosquito-larvae, the health minister also touted a new vaccine that could change the course of the dengue virus.
Noting that dengue vaccine can be used in the country if the World Health Organization (WHO) approves after trial, the minister mentioned that researchers from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) and the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont (UVM), USA, initiated groundbreaking studies on a promising tetravalent dengue vaccine in dengue-endemic Bangladesh.
The research showcased positive results in terms of safety and immune responsiveness across both children and adults.
The two institutions recently reported the successful completion of a second phase trial of the vaccine.
Quoting the institution, the minister was quoted by the daily Prothom Alo as saying, "The vaccine is very effective. But it needs to be tested further. If necessary, approval from the World Health Organization [WHO] will be sought and further testing will be conducted. Afterwards, it can be used in the country if approved by the WHO."
At present, no effective vaccine against dengue has been developed in any country across the world, the health minister said. "Research is going on worldwide."
Two kinds of vaccines were invented while four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus exist, with numerous virus strains found worldwide. So, vaccines are not working properly, he added.
"About 9,000 patients are under treatment in different hospitals of the country. We have sufficient saline, which is very crucial for dengue patients. But people have to be more aware to further control the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes," he further said.