Though the Coronavirus spread had come almost under control in Dhaka nearly a month back, the national capital is reemerging as the hotspot for the deadly virus transmission and fatalities.
Health experts said the highly transmissible Delta or Indian variant has speared in Dhaka as the government took time to stop inter-district transport services when it was spreading fast in frontier areas. The high density of population in the capital and people's apathy toward wearing masks, and maintaining health safety rules are also the major reasons why the virus transmission is spreading so fast in Dhaka.
They said ensuring speedy contact tracing, isolation of the infected people and intensifying the lockdown ensuring people's involvement are necessary to break the transmission cycle while better hospital management, including setting up field hospitals, can reduce the fatality rate.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), over 89,000 Covid cases were identified while 1421 patients died of the virus in the past 10 days.
The country reported 11,525 cases on Tuesday and 11,162 ones on Wednesday across the country. Of them, 3,715 or 32.23 per cent of patients were found in Dhaka city on Tuesday and 3,285 patients or 29.43 per cent on Wednesday. But the Covid positivity rate in Dhaka city was just 3.45% in early June.
The virus is not only spreading in Dhaka city, but also the districts under the division. The highest number of 5,097 patients was identified in the Dhaka division with a 31.09 per cent infection rate on Tuesday and 4,732 on Wednesday with a 42.39 per cent infection rate.
Besides, 163 people died of the Coronavirus on Tuesday and 201 on Wednesday. Of them, 45 died in the Dhaka division on Tuesday while 58 on Wednesday.
With the spike in Covid cases, hospitals are again getting overwhelmed with the Covid patients in the capital like the district ones in many areas. Kurmitola General Hospital in the capital has 275 general beds and 10 ICU beds for the Covid patients, but over 300 patients were receiving treatment at the hospital on Wednesday while all the ICUs were filled with patients.
Patients in all other Covid-dedicated public hospitals in the capital are witnessing the pressure of the growing number of patients while there was no vacant ICU bed at 11 out of 14 public hospitals on Wednesday.
Intensifying Preventive measures
Talking to UNB, Prof Muzaherul Huq, a former adviser to WHO South-East Asia region, said the measures taken by the government to contain the corona infection are inadequate. "As a result, the virus is spreading fast. Dhaka is becoming the hotspot for virus transmission while it is taking its heavy toll on different districts.
The lockdown has not been properly enforced while no step is an insight to carry out contact tracing. So, the government should enforce the lockdown more strictly alongside bringing people under rapid-antigen test and isolation through contact tracing."
Besides, Muzaherul said the government should encourage those people who have Covid symptoms to come to the government isolation centres across the country.
He said the government has failed to involve people in its efforts to enforce the lockdown and control public movement. "Lockdown monitoring committees should be formed in every locality with community leaders, public representatives, teachers and influential people to effectively implement the restrictions and control public movements."
"Without preventing the virus transmission, it won't be possible to deal with corona by increasing beds and increasing oxygen supply. So, we've no alternative to intensifying preventive measures by ensuring people's involvement to tackle the corona situation."
Improving hospital management
IEDCR consultant Prof Mushtuq Hussain said the Delta variant of the Coronavirus has spread all over the country, including the capital, from the bordering districts. "When the virus was spreading in the frontier areas, we couldn't control public movement and properly enforce the lockdown to slow down the virus transmission locally. So, the virus has spread to other parts of the country, including the capital. "Had we been able to keep the inter-district transport services suspended and control the public movement strictly at the initial stage, the situation might have turned so critical."
He said now the identified Covid patients need to be brought under better hospital management. "All patients need not come to the hospitals. But those patients who are unable to receive treatment at their homes should be brought under hospital management by setting up field hospitals. For the lack of field hospitals, many people come to hospitals when their conditions get critical."
Mushtuq said the government should immediately set up field hospitals in the capital and other worst-affected areas for reducing the mortality rate.
"If patients can get proper treatment at the initial stage at field hospitals, most of them will recover fast from the infection. When the condition of any patient worsens at a field hospital, he\she can be shifted to Covid dedicated hospitals. It'll also help reduce the pressure on the hospital system."
DGHS spokesperson Nazmul Islam said they are thinking of increasing beds at Covid hospitals to cope with the pressure of the growing number of patients. "We're assessing the necessity of the field hospitals. We'll set up field hospitals, if necessary.
Rural areas brace for worse
Public health expert Dr Abu Jamil Faisel, a member of the DGHS' Covid-19 Public Health Advisory Committee, said the transmission of Delta variant has increased in frontier districts since Eid-ul-Fitr, and it gradually spread all over the country since then.
He said the infection rate has been showing an uptrend in cities and rural areas as the virus are reaching its peak. "The infection rate will continue to rise for some days more."
Faisel said many people in rural areas have been suffering from fever and other symptoms of the virus, but many of them are not undergoing Covid tests considering it as normal or viral fever. "So, many people remain undetected. "These people are becoming super-spreaders by freely moving here and there. They're spreading the virus to their family members and their localities. So, I fear the situation in rural areas will get worse further in the days to come."