Bangladesh will experience a more critical Covid-19 situation in the next two or three weeks, health experts warn.
They suggest that the government force people to abide by health protocols and tighten the lockdown to rein in the virus surge.
On the second day of a nationwide lockdown, Bangladesh recorded the highest-ever single-day Covid-19 cases and deaths in continuation of an alarming surge in infections in recent weeks.
Professor Nazrul Islam, noted virologist and member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told The Business Standard, "The antibodies we have developed over the past year are not effective against the new strain of coronavirus. Infections are on the rise due to new strains."
Amid the alarming spike, demonstrations and public gatherings are taking place. Infections are now on the rise, which may take a turn for the worse in the next 20 to 21 days.
Expressing the same concern, Dr Nusrat Sultana, assistant professor at the Department of Virology of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said, "As far as we can predict, it seems that the way infections are increasing now will continue to rise in another two to three weeks.
"We will come to know a rise in infections in a few days as a result of huge gatherings during the medical admission test. We now also see different types of movements, which will also contribute to the Covid transmission. If infections increase in the next few weeks, so will the number of deaths."
Emphasising wearing a mask to prevent infections, Dr Nusrat told The Business Standard, "Only wearing a mask can prevent 50% of infections. My observations are that the people who contract the virus even after complying with health guidelines, like wearing masks, show mild symptoms. They do not need oxygen. That is why it is necessary to wear a mask even if social distancing cannot be maintained."
In the past 24 hours till 8am on Tuesday, 7,213 new Covid-19 cases and 66 more deaths from the virus were reported in Bangladesh, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The previous single-day highest deaths were 64 on 30 June. On Sunday, Bangladesh recorded 7,087 cases, which was the highest in a single day since the onset of coronavirus infection in the country.
The new cases took the total Covid-19 caseload to 6,51,652 with an infection rate of 21.2%. Meanwhile, the death tally has reached 9,384.
The highest 34,311 samples were tested in 237 labs across the country in the past 24 hours.
India's Covid positive cases are also rising. Indian experts have expressed fears over a serious spike in the next few weeks.
India's fight against Covid-19 over the next four weeks will be "very, very critical" as it faces a faster second surge in infections, senior government health official Vinod Kumar Paul said on Tuesday.
India's daily infections passed the 1,00,000 mark for the first time on Monday, data from the health ministry showed. It recorded 96,982 new cases on Tuesday.
Lockdown is underway in the country to stem infections. But experts think that the lockdown is not being observed scientifically in Bangladesh.
Professor Muzaherul Haque, a former adviser to the World Health Organisation, told The Business Standard that the seven-day lockdown enforced by the government does not match with the principle and definition of a lockdown.
"It is an unscientific, unplanned and half-hearted lockdown. It will not help the nation get success in containing the virus transmission," he said.
Professor Muzaherul Haque said lockdown is a scientific method to prevent coronavirus infection. It means everything except hospitals, drug stores, and ambulances will be closed. And, small vegetable or fish shops will be allowed to remain open for an hour or two.
"But that is not happening in our country. The restrictions have been imposed keeping everything open. Neither the government nor the people will benefit," he added.
Public health expert Dr Lenin Chowdhury, chairman of the Health and Hope Hospital, said a complete lockdown should be enforced for at least 14 days to slow down the virus transmission.
"Two weeks is an incubation period for coronavirus in human bodies. So, the virus transmission cycle cannot be broken with a seven-day lockdown," he said.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday said infections and deaths can go out of control if the government's guidelines to deal with the pandemic are not followed.
The minister said now work is going on in all parts of the country, including the capital, as per the government's instructions to prevent the pandemic. But people are demonstrating in some places in the country to lift the lockdown. The government has enforced the lockdown as it is urgent at this moment.
If these guidelines are now not followed, both infections and deaths might go out of control in the future, the minister also said adding, "No matter how many beds we increase in hospitals, nothing will work in reining Covid-19 if people do not abide by the hygiene rules."