The Covid-19 positivity rate in Bangladesh has recently come down to around 10%, but the death rate has not decreased that much. Experts said Covid-19 deaths start to decline three weeks after the positivity rate declines. So, the number of Covid-19 deaths may start decreasing from the second week of May.
Before that happens, the country is at high risk and the authorities should be very careful about barring the entry of the new variant of the virus from India. Besides, the government should ensure that people follow the hygiene rules and their movement during the Eid holidays does not increase.
"Complicated patients die three weeks after Covid-19 symptoms appear in the human body. So it takes at least three weeks to understand the mortality rate. The downturn in our infection situation started last week, so we expect deaths to decrease from the second week of May. It will be a real test at that time to see whether the data showing infection reduction is correct or not," said Dr Mohammad Mushtuq Husain, adviser of Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
"If the number of Covid-19 deaths does not subside in the next two weeks, we will realise that the data of infection we have seen does not show the real picture and there are patients with serious infections who may not be coming under the test," he continued.
The Covid-19 positivity rate was between 2.5% and 5% in January-February this year, but it started to increase in March and went above 23% in the first week of April.
The positivity rate has been on a gradual decline since 17 April, after the government imposed a lockdown from 14 April, but the daily death count still remains high. The country recorded over 100 Covid-19 deaths on 16 April for the first time. Then, Bangladesh recorded Covid-19 deaths above 100 for five days.
The country reported 57 more Covid-19 deaths and 2,177 new cases in the last 24 hours till Friday 8am, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
With the new figures, the country's Covid-19 death toll has reached 11,450 and the number of cases 7,59,132 since the detection of first novel coronavirus cases on 8 March 2020.
The Covid-19 positivity rate in the past 24 hours was 10.38% as 21,046 samples were tested across the country during the period.
April 2021 was the deadliest month of the novel coronavirus pandemic for Bangladesh.
The country has recorded 2,404 Covid-19 deaths with a daily average of 81 so far this month, topping last July's 1,264 fatalities with a daily average of 41, according to the data provided by the health directorate.
The death toll from the second wave of the coronavirus has risen sharply. This time positivity decreased rapidly but deaths have not decreased as much. In April this year, when the positivity rate was 23.58%, 96 people died in a day. Although the positivity rate has come down to around 10%, the daily death counts have been fluctuating between 80 to 90. However, the death toll has dropped slightly in the last 24 hours.
During the previous peak of infections in July last year, the positivity rate reached 25% and then dropped to 21%. At that time, the death rate was low and it decreased with the reduction in the positivity rate. When the positivity rate was 25.23%, the death toll was 51 in a day, and when the positivity rate dropped to 21.98%, the death toll dropped to 26 in a day.
Commenting on the current situation, Dr Mushtuq said, "We think that the situations at the hospitals reflect the current data on infections. The hospitals now have no overflowing crowd of patients. The death toll is now fluctuating, but it will start dropping from next week."
Despite all the optimism, Dr Mushtuq advised against becoming content with the situation, and said, "Man-to-man transmission must be reduced. The government has asked people to attend Eid prayers at the mosques, which is an unscientific decision. This will increase the risk of infection. The Eid prayers should be held in open fields keeping around three feet distance between people, who must wear masks. There will be an increased risk of infection even if a small number people attend Eid prayers inside enclosed space."
Noted virologist Professor Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told TBS, "The number of infections has dropped because of the lockdown and the people's tendency to wear masks. But, the risk remains high until the Covid-19 positivity rate falls below 5%. To reduce the infections, people should not neglect wearing masks and follow hygiene rules. Besides, the number of tests has to be increased. In the last few weeks, more than 30,000 tests were done daily, but now it has come down to 21,000."
The national technical advisory committee is also concerned about Indian variant of Covid-19. In its last meeting, the committee said all passengers coming from India must remain in the institutional quarantine for 14 days. Surveillance should be strengthened to control the entry of people through the border. The committee also requested not to show any leniency in this regard.