From the last couple of weeks, we all have been witnessing a series of peculiar events. It all started with the decreasing positive cases of Covid-19 and led to our health minister claiming to earn "good scores" at tackling the virus.
Now, this is no secret that conducting lower numbers of Covid-19 tests eventually leads to a decreasing number of detection. Even the US President Donald Trump last month told his administration to slow down Covid-19 testing as a higher number of tests meant higher detection of cases.
With the US witnessing lower death rate and higher recovery and already conducting more tests than any other country, Trump – being who he is – can justify his actions.
However, what is happening in Bangladesh is beyond comprehension. The countrywide lockdown imposed here to curb the spread of the virus barely did anything.
While the infection rate shows no sign of moving downwards, the government revoked work from facility of the government employees and hotel accommodation arranged for doctors, nurses and health workers.
Even on August 9, the country reported 2,487 new cases after testing 10,759 samples. The detection rate is 23.11 percent, which means 23 people are testing positive with every 100 tests conducted.
Analysing the rate of infection in Bangladesh last few weeks, we can see that it fluctuates in between 20 to 25 percent. On July 15, it even went as up as 25.23 percent.
The number of daily coronavirus tests done in the country was not, in any way, enough since the beginning of the outbreak. And now it almost seems like the authorities are trying to take credit by creating a lower infection rate artificially by reducing the number of tests even further.
Also, we have seen test reports, on July 28, where the patient's gender got changed and the age was written 14,613 years.
Another test report of an expatriate had "Unknown" written as the Result, which only shows the callousness of the authorities.
Needless to say, these sorts of callous behaviours are leading people to lose their trust in the testing system of the country. Also, both of these incidents occurred in 2 of the 16 hospitals across the country that the government itself selected to test Covid-19 for the passengers who will travel abroad. The reputation of the country is also at stake here.
The addition of charges imposed for coronavirus testing is also playing some role in demotivating people, especially the poor, from going to the hospitals to test themselves. This played a role so significant that there is no longer any rush in most of the facilities that offer Covid-19 testing, as per a report published in TBS on July 21.
Then again, many people used to prefer to get tested in private labs to avoid trouble in public hospitals. But after the JKG and Regent scams, people do not have the trust to get tested at private labs either. This acted as the final nail in the coffin.
It's also worth to mention that the death rate and infection rate are extremely puzzling in Bangladesh, thanks to the fluctuating number of daily tests. June 30 saw the highest single day deaths of 64 persons in the country – marking an abrupt jump from 45 of the day before and dropping to 41 the next day.
This sudden rise and fall in death and infection rate are making it extremely difficult for experts to come up with any sorts of projection that may show how much the Covid-19 situation can deteriorate in the near future.
At the very beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, Bangladesh got at least three months to face it. Meaning that, while countries like the US, Italy, Spain, and Germany witnessed an increasing number of daily cases and deaths, Bangladesh remained untouched by the virus for almost three months. This time should have been considered as a huge opportunity to take necessary preparations to tackle a pandemic as most of the countries weren't that much fortunate.
However, it is the callousness and lack of coordination between our health authorities that dragged us into the current situation.
That's why, when our health minister claims to earn "good scores" at tackling the virus, it came as no surprise.
The minister is clearly living in his imagination. Perhaps, in his utopia, he earns good scores at tackling the virus. He may have already contained the virus there!
However, we can't laugh at his statements anymore. We lost our sense of humour long ago when the reality slapped us in the face with one lakh positive cases, and the number jumped to 257,600 on August 9.
Our transition from a Covid-free country to a Covid-ridden one was not easy by any mean. And if our health authorities keep behaving the way they are doing now a lot of things will be at stake.
Hopes of thousands of students wanting to go abroad for higher studies will be shattered. Hundreds of thousands of remittance workers who returned home during the pandemic will not be able to go back to their workplace.
The imagined place of our health minister – where everything is perfect – will not be able to provide jobs to them; needless to say, what will happen to the economy that depends so much on remittance earnings.
The world is getting closer to get a vaccine. With or without it, most of the developed countries are likely to get rid of the virus eventually as they have already started to flatten the curve and return to normal life.
However, Bangladeshis are returning to normal life too when the entire Covid-19 situation in the country could not get any worse.
Now, let's have a look at some of the countries that has a higher number of daily cases.
According to the worldometer data, Bangladesh was at the seventh position worldwide in terms of new cases on August 9. The only countries with more daily cases reported were India, USA, Mexico, Russia, Philippines and Iraq, and all of them conducted way more tests than Bangladesh against each one million people.
Russia conducted a maximum 209,948 tests against each one million people while Mexico tested 8,413.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh only conducts 7,645 tests against each one million population.
We don't need to go far to get a good example. Our neighbouring country India, on July 25, hiked its daily testing capacity to over four lakh! On August 9, the country tested a record seven lakh people within a 24 hours time.