On March 18, Bangladesh confirmed its first death from Covid-19. In the beginning, the death toll was going up slowly with maximum three to five cases a day, but now it has begun to shoot up in double digits.
In the last 24 hours till yesterday morning, 15 people died from the coronavirus. The number was 10 a day before.
The number of deaths from coronavirus is increasing every day. So far, 75 people have died from the infection, whereas the number of recoveries is 58.
Experts find this rise in deaths alarming.
All coronavirus patients cannot be detected because of a lower number of tests, resulting in a good number of them dying without treatment, they opined.
While talking to The Business Standard, former vice-chancellor and noted virologist Professor Dr Nazrul Islam linked this high number of deaths to the country's poor healthcare system.
"The death of many patients means that there are loopholes in the healthcare system. If the number of infections increases, obviously, there are problems with lockdowns and other measures," he added.
Samples are being collected from many who died with coronavirus-like symptoms. An inadequate number of tests have been keeping many patients out of detection, and they are also being deprived of treatment, Dr Nazrul said.
In the last 24 hours till yesterday, the number of positive cases had dropped a bit. Some 264 people tested positive for Covid-19 after performing tests on 2,190 samples during the period.
The day before, 341 positive cases were detected after testing 2,019 samples.
"There is no reason to be happy for a slight drop in the number of infections despite a higher number of tests," Prof Nazrul said.
He cast doubt on the quality of tests – whether those were done complying with the right procedures. Everything has to be done properly from sample collection to carrying it to a lab for testing. If any mistake happens in the process, the test result will come negative, he added.
Mentioning the lower number of detections, Dr Jahidur Rahman, assistant professor at the Virology Department of Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital, said, "The number of deaths is increasing every day – it is alarming. We cannot identify coronavirus cases in time. So, many patients are dying without treatment.
"We do not know if any coronavirus patient recovered after taking treatment at intensive care units, meaning that the number of patients that recovered at hospitals is low," he added.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque in an online briefing yesterday said the number of coronavirus infected people in the country has so far reached 1,838. Some 27 patients have received treatment at intensive care beds, which is 1.8 percent of the total positive cases.
It is necessary to increase the number of tests all the more, the minister said, emphasising on enforcing the countrywide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.
68 percent patients take treatment at home
The country confirmed the first coronavirus infection on March 8. Since then, around 500 patients have received treatment at hospitals.
During the regular briefing, Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director at Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said, "Some 68 percent of the total infected people have taken treatment at their respective homes while 32 percent got it from different hospitals."
She also said not all patients who received treatment at different hospitals needed hospitalisation.
"Many had to get admitted to hospitals as they faced social pressure against staying home," Dr Meerjady added.
IEDCR's work continues as usual: Dr Meerjady
After six employees of the IEDCR caught coronavirus, Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora and a few officials were quarantined in a separate building on Thursday.
When asked about this, Dr Meerjady said, "The IEDCR has continued its work as usual. The six infected employees are undergoing treatment. Most of the staff are now working from home.
"Those who are involved in lab work are coming to the office and the sample collectors are working as usual."
She further said they had made arrangements for employees to work from home from March 26.
"Works like contract tracing is being done by our workers from home. I, along with a few other officials staying together in a building near our office, are doing our work. Our work has not stopped."