The Delta variant of coronavirus has spread almost all over the country, indicating that the situation might deteriorate further in the near future.
The Delta variant, also known as the Indian variant, was first identified in the country on 8 May. In less than four weeks, it spread to 10 districts as the variant already had a community transmission.
Infections are increasing rapidly in border districts due to this more contagious variant of coronavirus.
On 21 May, a man died of coronavirus symptoms at Televita village of Boultali union at Gopalganj Sadar upazila. Later, three more were infected with the coronavirus.
Testing the samples of 184 people, who came in contact with that person (male), 45 were found coronavirus-positive. Later, samples of 11 persons were sent to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) for genome sequencing. Among them, seven were found infected with the Indian variant.
Gopalganj Civil Surgeon Dr Sujat Ahmed told The Business Standard that people from Boultali, Sahapur and Satpar unions regularly travel to India legally and illegally. While infection rate is less in other areas of the district, it has increased in those three unions.
To bring the situation under control, a seven-day strict lockdown has been imposed in those three unions from 28 May.
Meanwhile, the infection rate is still on the rise in Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj despite the lockdown. Infection rate in Rajshahi increased to 49.43% on Friday, which was 26% on Thursday. Infection rate in Chapainawabganj increased to 61.87% on Friday, which was 53.94% on Thursday.
Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) is the only hospital for Covid patients in the district with 217 general beds and 15 ICU beds. On Saturday, there were 224 patients in the Covid wards.
RMCH Director Brigadier General Dr Shamim Yazdani told TBS, "The pressure of patients is increasing day by day. As the number of patients has increased, 16 more extra beds have been arranged. As there is a shortage of doctors in the Covid ward of RMCH, the district civil surgeon's office has appointed 15 more doctors."
Meanwhile, the cry of patients for ICU and oxygen is increasing at an alarming rate in Rajshahi. In the last 13 days since 24 May, 101 patients, Covid positive or with Covid symptoms, have died in RMCH. Among them, 60 were infected with the coronavirus.
On Saturday, the infection rate in the southern district of Satkhira was 47.34%. A seven-day lockdown has been imposed in Satkhira from Saturday morning.
The number of infected people in Khulna is also increasing. In the last seven days (30 May-5 June), the infection rate in the district was 25%, which was 20% in the previous week.
Meanwhile, a recent IEDCR study found that 80% of the coronavirus infections in Bangladesh are now of the Delta variant.
The IEDCR study conducted genome sequencing of 50 cases, and identified 40 as the Delta or Indian 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 said the infection of the Indian variant has reached community level transmission in Bangladesh.
The findings were revealed at a time when spiralling virus cases are ringing alarm bells in at least eight districts in the north-west and south-west of the country. Of the districts with rising cases, Rajshahi reported 12 deaths in 24 hours until Saturday morning.
The IEDCR also found the presence of Indian variant in samples collected from Dhaka city and Dhaka's Nawabganj.
Dr Abu Jamil Faisal, a member of the Epidemiology and Public Health Committee of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told TBS that the way the infection rate is increasing, the situation might deteriorate again. Those coming from India illegally have to be quarantined.
BGB patrols at the border should be increased. Lockdown has already been imposed in different districts and upazilas to deal with the increased infection. But there is no substitute for wearing masks, following hygiene rules, and more and more tests. In addition, general and ICU beds will have to be increased in the hospitals of the border districts, he suggests.
Professor Robed Amin, spokesperson of DGHS, said, "Local authorities have been empowered with the authority to impose lockdown to prevent infection in border districts. The Department of Health is increasing the number of beds in the district hospitals and providing oxygen."
"However, there is no alternative to personal awareness. Wearing a mask all the time and maintaining social distance are the only way to stem the spread of virus."
Highest positivity rate in 39 days
The number of daily fatalities from Covid-19 is on the rise as 43 more people succumbed to the virus infections in the last 24 hours.
With Saturday's figures, the death toll reached 12,801 and the fatality rate stood at 1.58%, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Meanwhile, 1,447 more people contracted the viral disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total case count to 8,09,314.
The positivity rate also increased during this period, crossing the 11% mark again in the country. The rate was recorded at 11.03%, which is the highest in 39 days. Earlier on 27 April, the positivity rate was 12.51%.
Also, 13,115 samples were tested in 509 labs across the country.