- Covid-19 positivity rate was 12.15% on September 11 (Lowest since 11.64% reported on May 9)
- Highest daily infection rate was 31.91% on August 3
- If infection rate falls below 10% it can be assumed that the situation is improving
- If infection rate goes below 5% it can be assumed that the infection is under control
The Covid-19 positivity rate in the country stood at 12.15% on Friday – the 188th day since the first cases were reported here on March 8 this year.
This was also the lowest rate of infection in the past 122 days.
The positivity rate – the percentage of tests that return positive – has been on a downward trend for the past three weeks.
Experts have said if the daily infection rate continues to remain below 15% in the next week, it will then become clear that the Covid-19 infection has slowed down in the country.
Bangladesh has spent six months of the Covid-19 outbreak with 3,34,762 confirmed cases and 4,668 deaths so far, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.
The DGHS on Friday said 14,747 samples had been tested in the previous 24 hours, of which 1,792 came back positive. The positivity rate was 12.15% on the day.
This was the lowest daily infection rate since May 9, when 11.64% of the samples tested positive in the previous 24 hours.
Bangladesh's Covid-19 positivity rate had been hovering between 20% and 25% from June to August. The highest daily infection rate in the country was reported at 31.91% on August 3.
The positivity rate came down to below 20% on August 20 and has remained below 15% since September 6.
Dr M Mushtuq Husain, Covid-19 pandemic control consultant at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told The Business Standard that if the daily infection rate remains below 15% for the next week, then it can be assumed that infections are decreasing.
"If the infection rate falls below 10% we can say the situation is improving. And if the infection rate comes further down below 5% we can say the infection is under control," he added.
Dr Mushtuq went on to say that a 10% positivity rate indicates a higher rate of infection and community transmission.
"If the infection rate remains around 10% for 3-4 weeks, then we can say that the optimum number of tests is being done. And if the rate starts to go below 10%, then it can be said that the Covid-19 infection is slowing down."
Asked if the fall in reported cases has been a result of low testing, he said, "If the testing is low there will be a rise in the infection rate. But if the infection rate is at the same level, then it should be understood that testing is not very low."
The number of daily tests has been between 10,000 and 15,000 for nearly two months.
However, it is not only suspected patients who are getting tested now. As hospitals have begun their operations in full swing for non-Covid patients at a time when coronavirus prevalence is high in the community, complicated medical procedures, e.g. C-sections, surgeries and kidney dialysis, require patients to get a prior Covid-19 test report.
In this regard, Mushtaq Hossain said asymptomatic tests are increasing the negativity rate, but not by too much.
"There is no alternative to identification, isolation and quarantine of patients to further reduce the infection rate.
"Public health campaigns must be run. In all cases, the community needs to be involved and empowered. In the early stages, people could be instructed when they were scared, but now after six months, the government has to work intensively. By mobilizing the people and involving local public representatives, a sustainable result can be obtained," said Dr M Mushtuq Husain.
Referring to the declining infection rate reported over the past few weeks, Professor Nazrul Islam, a noted virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said one more week of observation can tell if the infection is decreasing.
"If the infection rate is below 5%, all schools and colleges can be reopened. However, there is no alternative to wearing facemasks because a vaccine for the new coronavirus is not coming soon. The general population might get the vaccine by the end of next year," he said.