The government is now focused on nipping Covid-19 cluster transmissions in border districts in the bud to prevent them from turning into community transmissions.
Prof Nazmul Islam, the spokesperson for the health directorate, in an online bulletin on Sunday said the government has divided border districts with high infection rates into three clusters.
The first cluster contains four districts – Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Thakurgaon and Dinajpur – having an infection rate of over 30%. Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Natore and Naogaon have been identified as the second cluster with over 10% infection rate, while Satkhira, Khulna, Jashore and Chuadanga have qualified as the third cluster with a 5-10% infection rate.
But a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services earlier on the day said infection rates in the second and third clusters are still not less than 20%. The highest number of infections was recorded in the third cluster with a 35.69% infection rate. The rate was 34.44% in the first cluster and 20.94% in the second one.
According to a statistic, the number of Covid-19 patients in the Khulna division has increased by 3,967 over the last one month, while growth in the number of patients undergoing treatment is 207%.
In the last one month, 1,039 patients have received treatment at hospitals, while the number was 540 in the preceding month.
Physicians and health officials say the number of hospitalised patients now is two to five times more than those who recover. That is why hospitals struggle to accommodate them.
Meanwhile, the health directorate has issued a directive to send Covid test samples of border districts to labs in nearby districts to get results quickly.
Samples are piling up in the lab of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital as infections surged in Chapainawabganj and Rajshahi. These samples are now being sent to Naogaon and Natore. The same situation is prevailing in many more districts.
Nazmul said as infection rates are much higher in the south-western border districts, including Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj and Naogaon, the government has imposed restrictions to rein in Covid-19 in those border districts. So, antigen tests have been ramped up in the regions and no fee is being charged for now.
In the meantime, Bangladesh saw a steady rise in the number of Covid-19 deaths as 47 more people succumbed to the viral disease in the last 24 hours till Sunday 8 am. The death toll is the highest since 9 May when 56 fresh deaths were reported in the country, according to a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services.
The positivity rate slightly dropped during the same period standing at 12.99%.
Six lakh more Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine doses reach Dhaka
The second consignment of six lakh doses of Chinese Sinopharm vaccines has arrived in Dhaka.
Two aircraft of the Bangladesh Air Force carrying the vaccine shots and syringes landed at Bangabandhu airbase in Dhaka's Kurmitola area on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier on 12 May, China sent five lakh doses of its Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine to Bangladesh. Bangladesh received vaccine shots as gifts from China.
On 25 May, about 500 students from four medical colleges were administered the vaccine on an experimental basis. Later, the Dhaka Medical College Hospital administered the vaccine to more than 450 Chinese citizens.
Last month, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said Dhaka has placed its orders for June, July, and August as Sinopharm produces the jab after getting the orders.
The government has already signed a deal to procure the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine from China, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said on Saturday.
On 27 May this year, the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase approved a proposal for buying 1.5 crore doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine.
Nazmul Islam said in a bulletin on Sunday that the government has continued contacts with China and Russia to ensure the vaccination of the country's 80% population.
The government has also sought vaccine doses favourable for Bangladesh's weather condition from Covax, he also said.
"We have received over 1 lakh doses of Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, but we cannot start to administer people with those right now. The vaccine needs to be reconstituted with diluent, a substance, before use. The mixture was supposed to come last Monday night, but it did not," he added.
Border with India to remain shut for 16 more days
The government has decided to extend the closure of the border with India for another 16 days as the Covid-19 situation in bordering districts keeps worsening.
As per the new restrictions, the land border with India will remain closed till 30 June.
The decision came at an inter-ministerial meeting on Sunday.
On 26 April, the government closed the border with India for 14 days. Later the closure was extended for two more weeks. May 31 was supposed to be the last day of the ban. The government extended the closure once again today citing the deteriorating Covid-19 situation.
However, Bangladeshi nationals with a valid visa of 15 days or less will be allowed to return home subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine.