Bangladesh presents a unique picture of coronavirus infection cases in terms of age groups as the percentage of Covid-19 positive cases of 50 years' age or below here is much higher than in most other countries.
Of the 306 new cases detected on Saturday, 68 percent are aged 50 or below, placing Bangladesh second to India with over 72 percent. In Pakistan, 57 percent of Covid-19 patients aged 49 years or younger.
The figures come in stark contrast with those in other worst affected countries. About 28 percent of coronavirus infected people in Italy fall in 0-50 age group. In France 32 percent people of 44 years or below are among those infected, while the infection rate is 47 percent (up to 49 years) in Canada, 55 percent in Japan and 58 percent in South Korea, available data suggest.
Wide variations among countries and regions in infection with regards to age groups make it difficult for epidemiologists to assess the pattern of novel coronavirus spread and conclude which age group is more vulnerable.
In Bangladesh, virologists reason from lax enforcement of lockdown and frequent mutation of the virus itself for varying age groups being infected.
"Novel coronavirus has altered itself about 400 times so far. So it is difficult to detect how this virus behaves in which body," said Professor Sayedur Rahman, assistant coordinator of the coronavirus related taskforce in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
Explaining to The Business Standard, he said in the beginning elderly people along with those with co-morbidity were dying of Covid-19 at a higher rate in countries including China.
But the pattern has changed as younger Covid-19 patients are dying in the USA and in our country too, the rates of younger aged people getting infected or dying are higher, Prof Sayedur compared, stressing that more samples from the same age group need to be researched to understand the pattern of spread of this virus and detect which age group is more exposed to threat.
Former vice-chancellor of BSMMU Prof Nazrul Islam said people of younger ages, particularly males, tend to come out of home flouting the lockdown and that may be the reason why they are getting infected more.
The Infection rate is going up as lockdown is not being followed here as strictly as in Germany or other countries, the noted virologist said.
Of the infected, 80 percent are from Dhaka city and division, the number of patient is on the rise in neighbouring districts like Narayanganj, Gazipur and Narsingdi as movement of people continued, Prof Nazrul pointed out, warning that the situation might turn serious if lockdown is not enforced strictly and more detection and isolation of Covid-19 positive cases through enhanced tests.
Covid-19 patients rising in Gazipur, Narsingdi, Kishorganj
After the highest number of Covid-19 infection was diagnosed in Dhaka, with around 32 percent, Gazipur, Narsingdi and Kishorganj were the potential hotspots for infection in the country, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Director Professor Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora disclosed in a virtual briefing on Saturday.
The IEDCR director said they observed most of the infected people in Gazipur had come from Naryanganj.
In the last 24 hours, until 8am on Saturday, Bangladesh confirmed nine more deaths from the novel coronavirus and 306 new infections after testing 2,190 samples.
The death toll from the deadly virus rose to 84 and the number of the total infected persons stood at 2,144.
Among the deceased, six were from Dhaka, two from Narayanganj and one from Savar. Four of them were more than 60 years old.
"As Covid-19 patients are increasing in different parts of the country, epidemiologists should assess the areas with more infected people, and based on the assessment appropriate steps should be taken," said Be-Nazir Ahmed, a former director at communicable disease control at directorate general of health services.
Among those who tested positive, people aged between 21 and 30 were the highest with 27 percent infection followed by 31-40 with 22 percent and 41-50 with 19 percent infection, said the IEDCR director.
Dr Flora also said 8 patients cured in the last 24 hours and a total of 66 patients recovered so far.
A total of 2,244 samples were collected in the last 24 hours and 2,190 samples were tested. So far, 21,191 samples were tested across the country, said Nasima Sultana, an additional director general of health directorate in the briefing.
She also said currently coronavirus tests were being done at 19 labs in the country. Jashore Science and Technology University has started testing recently.
A total of 564 Covid-19 patients are receiving treatments at different hospitals, including 11 in ICUs, and the rest are in home isolation.
From 8 am Friday to 8 am Saturday, 66 people were put in isolation, taking the total to 599 after 34 left. So far 512 left the isolation period across the country, she added.