- Infection rate had been below 5% for about 2 months
- Authorities urged to ramp up genome sequencing
- Daily cases exceeded 1,000 after 2 months
- Infections to rise further if Eid travels not controlled
With the rise in the coronavirus infection rate after it had remained below 5% for a long time, health experts fear that a shallow wave of the pandemic may strike the country in summer.
Such fears have prompted them into urging the authorities to ramp up genome sequencing to prevent the spread of the UK strain of the virus in Bangladesh.
Professor Nazrul Islam, a noted virologist and member of the national technical advisory committee on Covid-19, told The Business Standard coronavirus infections were low in winter as the viruses prevalent locally were then active.
But infections may increase a bit in summer and a shallow wave may arrive, he said.
The infection rate had been below 5% for about two months. But new patient detection and the infection rate have been going up since last week.
According to the World Health Organisation, the situation is considered under control if the infection rate is below 5% for three consecutive weeks.
The current infection rate is around 6% while the number of daily cases has exceeded 1,000 after two months. Hospital admissions have been rising as well.
Meanwhile, travel across the country will increase a good deal during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr. Experts worry that if people's movement is not controlled, infections will rise further.
Prof Ridwanur Rahman, a medicine and infectious diseases specialist, told The Business Standard people had become a bit reluctant in following hygiene rules after vaccinations began.
But there was no substitute for following health rules and getting vaccines, he said.
"Otherwise, infections may increase further. Vaccines will provide 70% protection. Someone can be infected even after receiving the jab if he does not follow hygiene rules. Vaccinations will reduce coronavirus deaths," explained Ridwanur Rahman.
Professor ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services, told The Business Standard that tourist spots, including Cox's Bazar and Sylhet, were getting crowded and infections were rising again as people had not been following health rules.
"Infections may increase again during the Eid holidays. We are focusing on reducing the duration of the Eid holidays."
UK variant found in six returnees
The UK strain of coronavirus was detected in Bangladesh in January. Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said the variant had so far been detected in six people returning from the UK.
He said they had been brought under contact tracing and the variant spreading to others from them had not been reported so far.
The doctor said, however, the UK strain was not responsible for the current rise in infections.
"This strain was detected among UK returnees in Dhaka and Sylhet. We have a rule about keeping every UK returnee in quarantine and that is why this variant has not spread much. We kept them in isolation and supervised them."
Dr Alamgir said this variant had so far been detected in over 80 countries.
"We are sequencing the samples of those who tested positive after returning from the UK and this will continue. The vaccine we are providing in Bangladesh is effective against this variant. The same vaccine is being provided in the UK. So far, there has been no evidence that the vaccine is not working," he added.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh confirmed seven more coronavirus deaths in the 24 hours till 8am on Wednesday, with the death toll now standing at 8,496.
In the last 24 hours, 1,018 people tested positive and the infection rate was 5.98%. The number of cases is now 553,105.