A recent study found that 80% of the coronavirus infections in Bangladesh are of the Delta variant, also widely known as the Indian variant.
The study conducted by state-run Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) found community transmission of the variant, and also detected an unknown strain of coronavirus in the country.
The IEDCR study conducted genome sequencing of 50 cases, and identified 40, that is is 80%, as the Delta variant. The study also detected 16% cases of the Beta variant, widely known as the South African variant.
Of the Delta variant cases, 14 persons have neither any recent travel history to India, nor came in contact with patients detected with the Indian strain. The IEDCR study says the infection of the variant has reached community level transmission in Bangladesh.
The study collected 16 samples from Chapainawabganj and 15 were detected as the Delta variant. All the seven samples collected from Gopalganj were positive with the Indian variant too.
The IEDCR collected three samples from Khulna, and all of them tested positive for the Indian variant. Two of four samples collected from Dhaka were also identified as the Indian variant.
The Delta variant was found in samples collected from Dinajpur, Gaibandha, Bagerhat, Jhenaidah, and Pirojpur as well.
The findings were revealed at a time when spiralling virus cases are ringing alarm bells in at least eight Bangladeshi districts in the north-west and south-west. Of the districts with rising cases, Rajshahi reported 16 deaths in 24 hours until Friday morning.
The IEDCR urged people to maintain health safety guidelines to curb further spread of the Indian variant across the country.
On 8 May, Bangladesh for the first time detected six people with the Indian strain of the virus in the south-western district of Jashore. They all returned home from the neighbouring country in recent days.
The Delta variant of coronavirus, first discovered in India, is anywhere between 30% to 100% more transmissible than the previously dominant strains, according to Prof Neil Ferguson, a leading epidemiologist at Imperial College London.
As the strain started its rounds, coronavirus infections in India soared in a "tsunami" of disease, setting a new world record for cases over the past few weeks.
The second wave hit the neighbouring country with such ferocity that hospitals ran out of oxygen, beds, and antiviral drugs. Many patients are still being turned away as hospitals are already overwhelmed.
In the face of the infection resurgence in India, Bangladesh sealed off its borders with the country. Despite the border closures, many Bangladeshis were allowed to return home with a Covid-19 negative certificate. The returnees were also put in mandatory quarantine.
Both cases and deaths rise
On Friday, Bangladesh reported more Covid-19 cases and deaths compared to Thursday. In the past 24 hours until Friday morning, 1,887 people were diagnosed with the virus as 34 more succumbed to virus infection.
In the past 24 hours, the positivity rate went up further to 10.40%, according to the health directorate daily count.
With the latest fatalities, the death rate from the virus stands at 1.58%. With Friday's figures, the total caseload increased to 8,07,867 and the death toll reached 12,758 in the country.