New cases of Covid-19 infections are now showing a number of unusual symptoms ranging from low platelets in blood to shock syndrome developing in patients – along with the typical ones such as fever, cough, breathing complications and loss of smell.
Physicians believe the novel coronavirus is becoming more virulent owing to its continuous mutation.
Scientists, however, disagree, saying there is no evidence that suggests that the coronavirus has become more virulent.
Dhaka Medical College professor of medicine Robed Amin said there is likely to be a new strain of coronavirus out there as the hospital is getting Covid-19 patients with low blood pressure.
"Earlier, there were a few patients who had already gone into shock, but now such cases are higher. There are also Covid-19 infected people with low platelet counts in the blood," Prof Robed Amin told The Business Standard.
The physician, who is a member of the government-formed coronavirus treatment protocol and guideline committee, said currently Covid-19 patients are showing different complications and the virus has been damaging more organs and has especially been infecting the kidneys.
"These changes in infections are new. The virus is continuously mutating and newer strains are coming with newer characteristics – leading to the changed clinical presentation of infected people," he noted.
Prof Robed thinks the current strain is a little bit more aggressive. "We previously also had critical patients. But their situation started to improve after hospital admission. Now the condition of many patients is deteriorating further even after hospital admission," he added.
The physician told The Business Standard that prevention is the best method as medical personnel now cannot predict whose condition will worsen or who will likely recover fast.
In the last one month, coronavirus cases have increased by 30% while the mortality rate has surged by 7.3% in the country. In October, there were 44,205 Covid-19 patients in the country with 672 deaths. In November, virus cases spiked to 57,248, raising the death tally to 721.
On the 268th day of the infection in Bangladesh on Monday, Covid-19 positive cases stood at 4,64,932, with 6,644 confirmed deaths. The figures suggest the infection rate is climbing upward in the country.
From October to 10 November, the infection rate hovered around 10-12%, but now it is fluctuating between 13 % and 16%.
According to doctors, the number of Covid-19 cases who had lost the sense of smell is currently declining.
Dr Mahmudunnaby Tonmoy, a medicine specialist at Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital, told TBS that though the hospital used to have patients with unusual symptoms in the initial phase of the pandemic, the number has increased now.
"We are receiving many patients with no fever – the most common symptom of the virus infection – but they have other symptoms," he said.
In the United Kingdom, media reports suggest there were Covid-19 patients in May with unusual symptoms, such as fizzing sensation or tingling, covid-toe, headaches and dizziness, pink eye or conjunctivitis and necrosis or livedo.
Doctors in the US have continued to discover uncommon signs of coronavirus infection, including hallucination, hearing loss and high blood sugar. Time magazine in May noted that the symptoms were covering skin rashes, diarrhoea, kidney abnormalities and potentially life-threatening blood clots besides the hallmark symptoms of fever and cough.
Meanwhile, the former medicine department head at Dhaka Medical College, Prof Mujibur Rahman, told TBS that apart from fever and cough, Covid-19 patients are getting admitted to hospitals with severe dizziness and dengue-like symptoms.
"We are conducting dengue tests in many cases. Now the number of patients is increasing not only in Dhaka Medical College, but in all Covid-19 dedicated hospitals," he added.
Dhaka Medical College virology department Assistant Professor Nusrat Sultana thinks the strain currently circulating in Bangladesh seems to be extremely contagious and more virulent.
But, scientists in Bangladesh said they have not found any evidence suggesting a more virulent nature of the coronavirus.
"It is not uncommon for a Covid-19 patient to show changed symptoms as physical conditions vary from person to person," said Prof Samir Kumar Saha, head of the Department of Microbiology at Dhaka Shishu Hospital and executive director of Child Health Research Foundation.
He said Shishu Hospital has regularly been sequencing the coronavirus genome but they have not found any noticeable mutation.
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has said it studied the virus genome mutation until July.
"At the time, we saw that we have the same virus strain as in other countries," IEDCR Director Prof Tahmina Shirin told TBS.
"However, we could not continue research on whether the virus has become more virulent as we ran out of reagents at our lab. We will resume the research once we get them," she added.
She stressed that there is no alternative to wearing face masks, following virus safety measures and maintaining social distance in order to avert the infection.