As the Covid-19 pandemic claimed another 22 more lives yesterday and infected 2,381 more people, the government scrambles for new measures including zoning of the country according to infection rate and procuring more PCR machines needed to test patients.
The government yesterday decided to divide the entire country into three zones – red, yellow and green – and is going to approve two projects involving Tk2,492 crore today in an effort to flatten the coronavirus infection curve.
Bangladesh recorded 22 deaths from Covid-19 and 2,381 new infections in 24 hours ending at 8am yesterday. With this, the death toll now stood at 672 and the number of positive cases reached 49,534 till now.
The three-colour zone classification will be based on the number of coronavirus cases in different areas of the country, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said after disclosing the government's decision at a meeting of the National Technical Advisory Committee at the Secretariat.
Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Chittagong have high infection rates till date. Highly affected areas will be temporarily locked down if necessary, Zahid Maleque said.
Yellow zones have comparatively fewer cases where houses of infected patients will be locked down.
Special initiatives will be taken in the areas where there are no Covid-19 cases so that no one can enter from outside.
Additional Secretary Habibur Rahman Khan said, "The virus has not infected 80 percent areas of the country, so the whole country will be divided into three zones very soon to prevent coronavirus spread.
"Security measures in red zone areas will be strengthened so that no one can go out of the area. The red and yellow zone areas will be gradually turned to green zones if the decision is followed strictly."
He further said, "Zoning will be done by analyzing Covid-19 confirmed cases. The Department of Health has already been asked to submit information regarding this."
Three cities host 41% coronavirus patients
Dhaka, Chattogram, and Narayanganj house around 41 percent of all the coronavirus infected patients in the country, according to data by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Around 32 percent of the total infected patients have been recorded in Dhaka since the first case was confirmed on March 8.
Infections in the capital have stood at 16,260 as of Monday.
Chattogram and Narayanganj house 4.60 and 4.15 percent of patients, respectively, while 59 percent are from other districts.
According to the latest data by the DGHS, 21,39 percent of coronavirus infected patients have recovered, and some 1.36 percent have died. However, the infection rate was 20.81 percent yesterday.
Currently, 59,136 people are quarantined across the country, including 2,707 newly-quarantined individuals. So far, 228,743 people have completed their quarantine periods.
During the daily Covid-19 virtual briefing, DGHS Additional Director General Professor Nasima Sultana said the country is capable of accommodating 13,284 people at different isolation wards and 31,991 people at 626 institutional quarantine facilities.
There are 399 ICU facilities and 112 dialysis beds available for the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients.
Government to approve two projects to fight Covid-19
The government is going to approve two projects amounting to Tk2,492 crore today to tackle the pandemic.
The two projects – funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and the government – will be presented in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for its seal of approval.
Under the two projects, a total of 40 PCR machines will be supplied to the labs of different hospitals. Isolation centres and critical care units will be installed in district hospitals, and medical units will be set up at airports and land ports.
Besides, in case of a sudden lockdown in any area, a field hospital or makeshift isolation centre will be built immediately. At the same time, measures have been taken to remove medical waste.
The cost for one of the two projects titled "Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness" has been estimated at Tk1127.52 crore. Of the amount, some Tk850 crore will come from the World Bank.
Another project named "Covid-19 Response Emergency Assistance" involving Tk1,364.56 crore will be executed with Tk850 crore from the ADB and the remaining Tk514.59 crore from the government exchequer.
The health directorate will implement the projects.
Planning Minister MA Mannan told The Business Standard that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already approved the two projects considering the ongoing crisis. The projects will be placed before the Ecnec meeting today for formal approval.
Under the World Bank-funded project, 17 medical college hospitals, three infectious disease hospitals and Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases in Chattogram will be provided with PCR machines.
On the other hand, under the ADB-funded project, 10 medical college hospitals, five infectious disease hospitals and four specialised hospitals – Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Institute of Public Health Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research and National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre – will get PCR machines each.
Activating the existing labs in government and non-government organisations has also been proposed in the project.
Planning Commission officials said every district hospital will have a 20-bed isolation centre and a 5-bed critical care unit. Moreover, a separate 250-bed Covid-19 hospital for frontline workers – doctors, nurses, health workers, government officials, police, Ansar – will be set up in Mohakhali under the World Bank-funded project.
Under the project, a total of 16 medical centres will be set up at three international airports in Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet and eight domestic airports and three seaports – Mongla, Patenga and Payra – to detect Covid-19 cases.
Besides, hand wash corners will be set up in 892 upazila health complexes, 64 district hospitals and 17 medical college Hospitals.
According to the project proposal, an infectious diseases department in all medical college hospitals, an Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) unit in 64 districts and 81 infection prevention and control units in all secondary and tertiary hospitals will be established in order to enhance the country's healthcare capacity.
Other health service programmes, including laboratory facilities, will also begin in remote Chattogram Hill Tracts, Bhola, Hatia and Sandwip, depending on the availability of manpower.
Under the ADB-funded project, medical centres will be set up at 26 land ports. A 50-bed isolation centre will be launched in 17 medical college hospitals side by side setting up 10 extra critical care units in each of those hospitals. Infection prevention and control units will be set up in 892 upazila health complexes.