Bangladesh saw the lowest single-day infection rate in 80 days yesterday while it halved the Covid-19 testing fee to increase the number of sample tests.
Tests of 14,678 samples confirmed 2,747 new novel coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours till Wednesday 8am. It also recorded 41 deaths in that period.
The last time the country registered a single-day infection rate below 20 percent was on May 30 with 17.66 percent.
Professor Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and noted virologist, told The Business Standard, "The lowest infection rate in a single day does not mean that the trend of infections has come under control. To get a true picture, we need at least seven days' data.
"One of the reasons for today's lowest infection rate is that the samples might have been collected from areas where the prevalence of the virus is low.
"If samples are collected from different areas proportionately, we will get the actual scenario. Since health guidelines are largely being neglected, there is now a possibility of rising infections in the coming days."
Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday made the announcement of fees reduction at a media briefing at the Bangladesh Secretariat.
The fees have now been reset at Tk100 for sample collection from government-designated centres and Tk300 for collecting samples from home. Earlier, the fees were Tk200 and 500 respectively.
On June 29, the health ministry had issued a circular determining fees for Covid-19 tests at the state-owned facilities. Thereafter, the number of tests came down gradually.
Zahid Maleque expects that the number of Covid-19 sample tests will go up once the decision to decrease the fees comes into effect.
He said the reduced fees will be implemented in the next two days. The new fees have been set keeping the common people of the country in mind.
The country's total confirmed Covid-19 cases now stands at 285,091 with an overall infection rate of 20.46 percent.
The death toll is now 3,781, said a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The death rate stands at 1.33 percent.
A total of 2,913 patients were declared free of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and the total number of recoveries reached 165,738. The recovery rate was 58.14 percent.
Of the deceased, 34 were men and seven were women. Twenty-one of them hailed from Dhaka division, seven from Khulna, one from Mymensingh and three each from Chattogram, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Barishal.
Of the deceased, one was between 31 and 40 years old, five between 41 and 50, 11 between 51-60 and 24 were above 60.
Thirty-eight of them died in different hospitals and three at their respective homes.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said that they are analysing the quality, availability and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine by keeping in constant touch with all countries producing them, including China, Russia, the USA and the United Kingdom.
He said 70 percent of the beds at Covid-dedicated hospitals are currently empty. As a result, a large number of doctors and nurses are sitting idle.
Therefore, the government is working to turn the hospitals where the number of Covid-19 patients is very low into non-Covid treatment facilities. Non-Covid patients would benefit more from this decision, the minister added.