The number of Covid-19 infections in Bangladesh crossed the 1 lakh mark on Thursday, the 103rd day of the detection of the maiden coronavirus cases here, thus making the country a member of the club of 17 countries with one lakh or more Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, health officials say the Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon and may last for upto two to three years.
However, despite the increase in the number of patients, the test rate is still much lower in Bangladesh when compared to other countries. Among the 17 countries with highest coronavirus cases, Bangladesh has had more tests than Mexico only.
The first Covid-19 patient in the country was identified on March 8 and the maiden death from the virus was reported on March 18. It took three months for the tally of Covid-19 cases to reach the unwelcome milestone of one lakh.
The first 10,000 Covid-19 cases in the country were found in 58 days whereas at present the same number of cases is reported every three days.
Some 57,684 persons -- 58% of the total -- have been infected in the last 19 days after the withdrawal of the general holiday while 733 persons died during this period, which is 54.6% of the total deaths.
Experts say the current speed in rise of infection numbers has resulted from the relaxation of the movement restrictions, reopening of garments industries, shopping centres, markets, and allowing people to go home during the Eid holidays revoking the general holidays.
Head of the government's Covid-19 affairs committee and former director of the health directorate Professor Shah Munir Hossain told The Business Standard the present situation is the result of the movement of a large number of people during the Eid holidays.
"We said if there were no Eid crowd movement, the infection rate would start declining in the first week of June. If something like this happens again, the infection will increase further. By the end of June, the number of patients will exceed one and a half lakhs," he said.
Infection rates are rising, still lagging in tests
In an online briefing on Thursday, additional director general of the department of health Professor Nasima Sultana said that in 24 hours, 16,259 samples were tested and 3,803 patients were identified, reaching the total number of infections of 1,02,292.
Also, 38 persons died in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 1,343.
The infection rate was 23.39% on the day it reached one lakh which is the highest single-day rate of infection.
So far, 5,67,503 samples have been tested, which is higher than that of Mexico only. Mexico tested 3,11,261 samples and identified 1,05,000 patients on the 98th day of infection.
Besides, people are still undergoing suffering to get tested and it takes eight to 10 days to get the test report.
There is still a lack of coordination
From the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lack of coordination among the various ministries of the government. Doors of garment industries were thrown open during the general holiday without consulting the Ministry of Health. The health minister has repeatedly expressed concerns that the infection would go up if everything including the markets are opened.
The present zone-based lockdown process also lacks coordination. Two weeks ago, it was decided to divide the country into red, yellow and green zones to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection but it has not been implemented yet. The mayors of the city corporations said they would impose lockdown when the health ministry gives them the list of areas to be locked down.
The ministry has not yet made the list, but the public administration ministry has already declared that residents in the red zones would be considered to be on holiday so they do not have to move in and out of the areas to go to work.
Professor Nazrul Islam, a member of the government's technical advisory committee on Covid-19 and a virologist, told The Business Standard people were being harmed by the government's lack of coordination. People are confused. The City Corporations, the Department of Health, and the Ministry of Public Administration can decide on the zones jointly. The Department of Health has a list of the infected and deaths.
"Why is it being delayed? Is there any problem in communication among them?" he asked.
Non-Covid patients are being denied treatment
Non-Covid-19 patients have been suffering from the very beginning of the pandemic. They are being turned away from clinics and hospitals. The situation has not improved three months later.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Health has issued several directives to clinics and hospitals to accept and treat patients regardless of their ailments. Even then, there are cases of patients dying in a few hospitals without getting treatment almost every day.
Other patients with cancer and heart disease are not getting treatment at hospitals without first producing a Covid-19 negative certificate.
Health workers are at greater risks
According to the Bangladesh Medical Association, 3,301 healthworks have been infected with Covid-19 in the country so far, of which, 36 doctors died of Covid-19 and five died with symptoms of the disease.
So far, three nurses have died.
The novel coronavirus infection and death rate of health workers in Bangladesh is much higher than in other countries.
"Infection may last for two to three years"
In an online briefing on Thursday, Director General of the Department of Health Prof Abul Kalam Azad said, "According to the experience of different countries of the world and the advice or experience of public health experts, the Covid-19 situation is not ending in one, two or three months; It will last for two to three years or more. However, the level of infection may not be high.
Professor Abul Kalam Azad said, "Covid-19 examination will be expanded to public-private level. The RT-PCR examination will be extended as soon as possible to the district level under government management.
"More new, easier-to-use Covid-19 tests will be introduced. Efforts will be made to introduce such tests up to the upazila hospital. Work is underway to expand ICU facilities in all district hospitals. Central oxygen supply system is being installed in all government hospitals up to the district ones."
"Measures are being taken to ensure that all public and private hospitals provide good medical care to all patients, Covid-19 and non-Covid-19," he added.