The health department of Chattogram has no information about thousands of Covid-19 patients in the district.
Although the district civil surgeon's office claimed that 12,585Covid patients are being treated in the district at present, they have failed to provide any information on where they are being treated.
Not only that, the civil surgeon office is totally ignorant about the current status of this large number of Covid patients, whether they are still positive for the virus.
According to the Chattogram Civil Surgeon's Office, the first Covid patient was identified on 3 April 2020 in the district. As of 4 April this year, 50,478 people were infected with the virus in one year. Among the infected patients, 540 died while undergoing treatment and 36,724 have recovered.
About the remaining 12,585 Covid patients, the health department does not know anything.
According to the information provided by the district civil surgeon's office on 4 May last, at present, 609 Covid patients are receiving treatment in 27 public and private hospitals in Chattogram, 20 have been quarantined at home and no one has been isolated.
When asked why over 12,000 positive patients are being shown in the district's Covid patients' list, Chattogram's Civil Surgeon Sheikh Fazle Rabbi told The Business Standard, "It takes about three weeks for a patient to recover, so the number of patients undergoing treatment is shown high."
However, sources concerned said at beginning of the pandemic in the country last year, patients who were treated at home were monitored through mobile phones by the health department, but now, the department does not continue the monitoring process anymore.
They said so, even if the health department is informed about a person being infected, it does not have an accurate estimate about the number of patients who have recovered or died.
Samad Anwar, father of a Chattogram-based businessman named Sajid Anwar, died of Covid-19 a month ago. Later, he and five other members of the family also became positive for coronavirus. His mother Fatema Begum is currently in critical condition and is being treated at a private hospital in the city. Sajid himself is undergoing treatment at home.
Sajid told TBS, "Three days after the Covid test, a message came informing that our family members are positive for coronavirus. Then, my father died and my mother is undergoing treatment at hospital while I am being treated at home. The rest have recovered."
"But no one from the health department or the civil surgeon's office contacted us to know about further development. In this context, questions are being raised about the authenticity of health department's published statistics on the number of death and recovery in the ongoing pandemic," he added.
To find out more, this correspondent contacted three district health department officials involved in preparing the statements issued from the district civil surgeon's office. They are Chattogram District Health Supervisor Sujan Barua, Statistics Officer Geeta and Senior Staff Nurse Lata.
But all of them avoided the topic tactically, without giving any specific answer to the queries of this correspondent. Geeta and Lata even declined to mention their full names.
Health expert Dr Faisal Iqbal Chowdhury said, "The authorities and patients both sides have responsibilities here. Many patients do not give the correct mobile number for Covid treatment or keep their phones off. On the other hand, due to the negligence of the officials concerned, the correct information is not collected from the field following due process. That is why we are not getting the correct picture of the present Covid situation."
64% of patients recover at home
In the last one year in Chattogram, 31,560 people have recovered from coronavirus infections at home, about 63.19% of the total Covid-19 patients.
Recovered patients said receiving Covid treatment in the hospital has a variety of problems and risks. So, they are feeling more comfortable getting treatment at home.
District Civil Surgeon Sheikh Fazle Rabbi told TBS, "At present, the recovery rate of coronavirus patients in Chattogram is 73% and by the end of this month, it is expected to exceed 80%. Most of the Covid patients are recovering after receiving treatment at home."
"Patients with mild symptoms do not need to be hospitalised," he observed.
The situation improves this month
The Covid situation in Chattogram deteriorated last month. The number of infections and deaths in the district increased at an alarming rate throughout the month. On 25 April, a record 11 people died in a single day.
The acute crisis of ICU beds in public and private hospitals in the port city was the main news of the media day after day, as all the 110 ICU beds in the city were full of patients. But, fortunately, the situation started improving just after the end of April, and at present, 57% of ICU beds in Chattogram hospitals are empty.
According to month-based statistics, out of 54,797 samples tested, 9,662 persons were found infected by the virus in 30 days of the month. Of them, 6,392 patients received treatment at home. A record 132 people died in April while undergoing treatment.
But in the first week of May, the situation improved significantly.
According to the health department, Covid patients are treated at 28 public and private hospitals in Chattogram. These hospitals have 1,600 general beds for Covid patients; of which, 991 beds are currently empty. Besides, there are only 77 patients in the 110 intensive care units.
Chattogram Divisional Health Director Dr Hasan Shahriar Kabir told TBS, "The situation in Chattogram is now relatively better than last month. In April, every hospital was full of patients. However, the number of patients admitted to the hospitals decreased last week."
"If the severity of infection does not intensify, no one is getting admitted to the hospital. The majority of the patients are recovering with treatment at home," he said.
"However, Covid patients with complex health problems like diabetes, kidney and heart diseases should be admitted to hospital without taking any risk," the divisional health chief advised.