The coronavirus situation is now better in Southeast Asian countries that made the right decision at the right time to flatten the curve. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have failed to take proper containment measures in time, resulting in high rates of infections. These countries were inefficient in coronavirus management.
The countries could not execute lockdowns properly. They have limited testing despite having large populations. Sri Lanka and the Maldives are testing a lot. Sri Lanka has imposed a curfew and people are staying indoors; only army personnel are out on the streets. However, it did not happen in other countries. That is why infections could not be controlled.
The test rate is low in our country. We are only ahead of Afghanistan in terms of testing. The Maldives is testing more than 7,000 tests per one lakh people a day, while the test rate per lakh is meagre in Bangladesh. Our single-day tests have not reached 20,000 yet.
When we test more, we detect more. I think there are many more patients out there than what we are now identifying because only those who manage to get tested when having coronavirus symptoms are being added to the list.
The number of deaths with symptoms is not low either, but they are not coming on the list. They have to be added to the official tally; otherwise, we will not be able to know the actual picture of the death toll. They died with symptoms, it is not known whether they were Covid-19 positive as they could not be tested.
If we look only at the death rate at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital's coronavirus unit, it is easily understandable that the number of deaths disclosed in the daily briefing is not correct. The patients are admitted to the coronavirus unit only after they show symptoms. Only one hospital's data says the death rate is much higher.
Our recovery rate is low, but that too is not an actual recovery rate as it is tough to maintain the data. The health directorate does not have information on many of those who are recovering from Covid-19 while staying at home. Infections are accelerating with each passing day owing to our lack of preparation and incoordination. We could not benefit enough from our testing capacities.
Infections are now increasing naturally, we are testing less, and those who come in contact with the infected are not being quarantined. The Covid-19 transmission will see a further rise after Eid-ul-Adha as there will be a lot more movement during the Eid.
Prof Muzaherul Huq is a former adviser to the World Health Organisation's Southeast Asia region