The number of Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh crossed the two-lakh mark on Saturday – the 131st day since the outbreak was recorded in the country.
Although the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing, there has been a casual approach among the people and the government authorities concerned with handling the deadly novel coronavirus.
The country recorded its first Covid-19 cases on March 8, and its maiden death from the virus on March 18. It took four months for the tally of Covid-19 cases to reach the unwelcome milestone of two lakh.
The first 10,000 Covid-19 cases were diagnosed in 58 days. However, at present, the same number of cases is reported every three days.
Bangladesh reported its first 100,000 Covid-19 cases on June 18 after 103 days of the outbreak. However, the next 100,000 cases were reported in the last 30 days.
Some 56,556 people – 27.98 percent of the total cases – have tested positive in the last 18 days, and 734 patients died, which is 27.48 percent of the total deaths.
Dr M Mushtuq Husain, consultant of the Covid-19 Pandemic Control at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research, told The Business Standard that data shows that the rate of infection has not decreased.
"It is increasing slowly but surely," he added.
Virus likely to stay longer
Experts say from the beginning, no proper steps were taken to deal with Covid-19 efficiently. If more tests and isolation are not done now to contain the spread of infection, the virus will stay longer.
Professor Ridwanur Rahman, medicine specialist and head of the research centre at Universal Medical College, told The Business Standard that the infection rate in Bangladesh is geometrically lower than in other countries because about 70-80 percent of the people adhere to hygiene rules.
"That's why, even if our transmission is not geometric, a low transmission rate will remain indefinitely. The caseload will remain the same this year if a vaccine does not arrive or the testing and isolation measures are not strictly followed," he added.
Professor Ridwanur said, "We have opened everything. We are not going to enforce lockdowns anymore. Now the government can take no action except ask people to wear masks."
In this situation, people can protect themselves if they wear masks and adhere to social distancing rules. Otherwise, they will be infected with Covid-19, he further said.
"We are on the highway of herd immunity. Infections will decrease after 70-80 percent of people are infected. We are dying uncontrollably. The government and the people must come forward to prevent the situation," he added.
Dr M Mushtuq Husain said it will be difficult to save both the lives and livelihoods if coordinated and serious steps are not taken right away.
"Now in the areas where the infection rate is higher or in red zones, everyone has to be tested, quarantined and isolated. Again, arrangements have to be made to prevent the spread of infection in green zones," he said, adding otherwise, the infections will be prevalent for a longer period and the loss of life and the economic damage will increase.
Tests again dip below 10,000-mark
The number of daily Covid-19 tests has decreased drastically – while the infection rate has increased.
A total of 10,923 samples were tested in the last 24 hours till 8am on Saturday, which is the lowest in the last 48 days.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) data shows that the first 10,000 plus – 10,207 – samples were tested on May 20. The first 15,000 plus – 15,965 – samples were tested on June 10.
Since then, the number of single-day tests has been hovering between 15,000 and 18,000. On June 26, the highest number, 18,498 samples, were tested in a day.
However, on July 3 the number of sample tests suddenly dropped to 14,650. Since then the number of tests has decreased almost every passing day.
Professor Nazrul Islam, a noted virologist and former vice-chancellor of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, told The Business Standard that if 20,000 tests were done daily, the correct rate of infections could be determied. However, the number of tests is decreasing day by day.
Professor Ridwanur Rahman said now it is necessary to increase the number of tests to stop the spread of the infection.
Additionally, focusing on tests and isolation, people with Covid-19 symptoms should be encouraged to get tested, he added.
"People are neither satisfied with hospital services, nor with tests. One kind of frustration remains among them," said Professor Ridwanur.
The services should be user-friendly at all levels whether it be the government or private hospitals, he said, adding, "and community transmissions need to be reduced so that there will be no way to increase the infections."
Death toll passes 2,500-mark
With 34 more deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the death toll from the virus rose to 2,547 in Bangladesh.
With 2,709 fresh cases confirmed on Saturday, the total number of Covid-19 cases reached 202,066, Professor Nasima Sultana, additional director general of DGHS, disclosed at a virtual briefing on Saturday.
Additionally, some 1,373 patients have recovered during the time, increasing the tally to 110,098, and putting the recovery rate at around 54.49 percent.