The government, on Monday, decided to reopen shops and shopping malls from May 10, ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, despite a surge in the number of infections.
This decision comes on a day when Bangladesh has recorded the highest number of novel coronavirus cases in 24 hours – 688 – with total infections reaching 10,143.
Experts and analysts fear this relaxing of social distancing rules could lead to devastating effects.
The confirmed cases were around 300 per day before April 25. However, the number began to rise once the government allowed shops to open on a small scale to sell iftar items.
"By opening the shops, we are going to enter a vicious cycle of infections," said Professor Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director of Communicable Disease Control at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
He warned that shopkeepers, salespeople and even consumers could spread the virus.
"General holidays from March 26 helped us stop the spread of the virus outside the capital. Now it seems we are welcoming a danger that could be averted," the professor added.
On the other hand, Sociologist Professor Dr ASM Amanullah said that the government is knowingly walking the path of herd immunity.
"The government is trying to control the number of infections and save the economy at the same time – which is not possible. If the government moves in this direction, as our projection, there could be more than 300,000 to 500,000 infections in Bangladesh with more than 15,000 deaths," said Dr ASM Amanullah.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the deadly virus rose to 182 on Monday, with five new deaths reported in the past 24 hours.
"Among the five new victims, all were male. Three were from Dhaka, and one, each, hailed from Sylhet and Mymensingh. Three of them were aged above 60," DGHS Additional Director General Dr Nasima Sultana disclosed during the daily novel coronavirus virtual briefing.
She added that sample collection had increased by 21.11 percent from the previous day, while PCR testing increased by 16.61 percent. Some 87,694 samples had been collected at the time of the briefing, including 6,315 new samples in the last 24 hours.
"In the last 24 hours, 147 patients had recovered, increasing the total number of recovered patients to 1,209," Dr Nasima said.
The authorities placed 90 new individuals suspected of having Covid-19 into isolation – bringing the total to 1,636 after 1,173 suspected patients left.
"The country is capable of accommodating 3,635 people in 601 isolation wards," she added.
Among the infected and deceased patients, men and elderly people have been shown to be at higher risk than women and younger people.
Analysing the data from May 3 reveals that around 68 percent infected patients are male and 32 percent are female. Of them, 73 percent of the men succumbed to the virus, while 27 percent of the deceased were women.
The highest number of cases were reported among people aged 60 and above. Next in line is the 51-60 age group, representing 27% of those infected; followed by the 41-50 age group with 19 percent representation; the 31-40 age group with seven percent; the 21-30 age group at three percent; and two percent of the infected are aged below 10.
So far, Dhaka division has the highest number of Covid-19 patients, followed by the Chattogram and Mymensingh divisions.
Dhaka district, followed by Narayanganj, are the novel coronavirus hotspots in Dhaka division. Cumilla district under Chattogram division, Jashore under Khulna division, Joypurhat under Rajshahi division, Habiganj under Sylhet division – plus the Rangpur, Mymensingh and Barisal districts under their respective divisions – are the divisional Covid-19 hotspots.
Globally, the Covid-19 death toll has crossed 2.48 lakh, with the total number of infections standing at 3.6 million.