Bangladesh sees highest weekly Covid-19 cases, deaths yet
Experts blame “wrong decisions” taken by the authorities for the rising trend of infections and deaths
Bangladesh on Thursday confirmed 14 more deaths and 1,041 new infections after testing 7,392 samples in the previous 24 hours.
With this, the death toll from the deadly virus rises to 283 and the number of total novel coronavirus infections stand at 18,863, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). No patients recovered between Wednesday and Thursday.
Meanwhile, the government has extended the ongoing general holidays by another two weeks till May 30, though the countrywide shutdown had been ignored since way before. It was due to expire on May 16.
Of the 14 people who died, 11 were male and three were female, Additional Director General of DGHS Dr Nasima Sultana disclosed during a virtual briefing.
"Some 7,837 samples were collected in the last 24 hours and 7,392 samples were tested. A total of 1,51,930 samples have been tested so far in the country," she added.
Experts blame "wrong decisions" taken by the authorities for the rising trend of infections and deaths.
"The shutdown was relaxed from the very first day. People rarely followed the rules, and laws were not applied strictly," said Prof Muzaherul Huq, former advisor of the World Health Organization's (WHO) for Southeast Asia.
He added that reopening garment factories and markets increased exposure to the virus, so infections and deaths have risen accordingly.
"Now it is beyond prediction when the pandemic will stop or slow down. We have to wait for the curve to peak," Muzaherul opined.
He said that Bangladesh is testing only 88 individuals per 1 lakh people – the lowest in Southeast Asia. Neighbouring India is testing around 135 per 1 lakh people, Pakistan is testing 143, Maldives is testing over 2,000, while Bhutan is testing 2,500 individuals per 1 lakh people.
"Authorities have to increase countrywide testing immediately, ensuring availability and accessibility to all," the professor added.
Muzaherul suggested tracing every person who has come in contact with Covid-19 patients and taking them into isolation.
Opposing a full-on countrywide lockdown, the former WHO adviser proposed dividing the country in three zones – green for areas with less than 10 Covid-19 infections, yellow for places with 11-100 cases, and red for areas with over 100 infections.
The red and yellow zones should come under strict lockdown, but only infected people should be quarantined in the green zones, allowing most activities to go unimpeded in these areas, he suggested.
Currently, 46,014 people are quarantined across the country – including 3,031 newly-quarantined individuals. A total of 184,659 people have completed their quarantine periods so far.
The authorities have placed 201 new individuals suspected of having Covid-19 into isolation, bringing the total to 2,570 after 1,398 left, according to the DGHS.
"The country is capable of accommodating 8,634 people at 601 isolation wards and 31,165 people at 617 institutional quarantine facilities," said Dr Nasima.
There are 329 ICU facilities and 102 dialysis beds available for the treatment of coronavirus infected patients in the country.