Eighteen new Covid-19 patients have been diagnosed and one individual died because of the virus in Bangladesh, said the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
"Most of the new Covid-19 patients belong to specific clusters," said Director of the IEDCR Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora in a press briefing on Sunday.
The IEDCR director said, "We are finding patients in many areas. There is community transmission of the novel coronavirus, but within clusters. If people do not avoid public gatherings, then the virus might spread; so, we are urging all to avoid gatherings."
Professor Flora said 12 of the new Covid-19 patients are from Dhaka, five from Narayanganj and one from Madaripur.
She also said the novel coronavirus exists among clusters of patients in Narayanganj, Madaripur, Gaibandha, Mirpur, and Basabo.
Professor Flora said, "We identified a cluster in Madaripur earlier. We took containment measures first in Madaripur."
"Currently the total number of Covid-19 patients in Narayanganj is 11. We are intensifying our containment measures now. We found nine patients in Basabo, five in Tolarbagh, and 11 in Mirpur. We are collecting samples from people who show mild symptoms of Covid-19 in these areas to prevent the spread of the disease."
"However, not all of Narayanganj, Madaripur or Gaibandha districts is parts of these clusters. Only some areas within these belong to the clusters," Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer of the IEDCR told The Business Standard.
Number of tests remains low
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said 367 samples have been tested for the virus in the last 24 hours.
Although 14 labs are testing samples for the novel coronavirus, the number of tests is still low.
Since January 21 this year, 2,914 samples have been tested for Covid-19 in Bangladesh. The novel coronavirus has struck 88 people here, nine of whom are dead. Thirty-three people have recovered from the virus and returned home.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emphasised the need for more testing. She, on Thursday, directed the authorities concerned to carry out at least 1,000 tests for coronavirus per day.
However, the labs have not yet tested half of the number of samples the prime minister asked to do in a single day.
Regarding the matter, the DGHS Director General Professor Abul Kalam Azad said, "In the last few days we have realised that the people we trained at the upazila and district level had problems. Many of them are not providing the required information on the online dashboard we set up."
"We trained them today [Sunday] via video conference to solve the problems and directed them to increase the number of tests," he said.
Professor Azad also said, "We talked with the specialists about using alternative tests and increasing the number of booths to collect samples on Saturday."
"I think we can increase the number of tests very soon," he added.
'Situation cannot be tackled without help from all'
Emphasising the importance of social distancing, the DGHS director general said, "If we cannot maintain this effectively, and the people across the country do not participate in it and actively play their roles, then we will not be able to counter the situation in case of an outbreak."
Professor Azad said, "If the preparations we are taking and the advice we are giving are implemented at individual and organisational level, we can tackle the situation. Not every type of situation can be overcome solely by enforcing laws. We all have responsibilities."