But no death from respiratory problems had been recorded from the government level in March
A 58-year-old man – a resident of Dhaka's Nawabganj upazila – suffering from cold, cough, fever and breathing problems died while being treated at the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital on Monday night.
But the upazila health official could not confirm where he was infected with coronavirus.
Nawabganj Upazila Health and Family Planning Official Dr Md Shahidul Islam said the elderly person was suffering from cough, fever and severe respiratory problems, and got admitted to the hospital's isolation ward on Monday afternoon.
"He was sent to Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital as there is no intensive care bed in our hospital. Later, he died there around 12 midnight," he added.
In the Madhupur area of Tangail, an apparel worker died from what appeared to be coronavirus yesterday afternoon. On Sunday, she went to her village home from Dhaka with fever. Later, on Monday, she had diarrhoea before she passed away.
Tangail Civil Surgeon Dr Wahiduzzaman told The Business Standard that a team from the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) collected samples from the dead to test for coronavirus. The body was also buried under the team's supervision. The deceased's house was locked down.
Before that, on Monday, a 12-year-old girl died at the isolation ward of Jashore General Hospital. The child – suffering from cold, cough and fever – was brought to the hospital on Sunday. She had been quarantined there with primary symptoms of coronavirus.
A total of 46 people have died from what appeared to be coronavirus between March 11 and March 31 across the country, according to different media reports and information provided by our correspondents.
But deaths from respiratory problems have not been recorded by the government in March.
Physicians said the number of patients with cold, cough and fever goes up at this time of year, and many patients die. But this year the death toll is a bit higher, so it is necessary to research the problem to identify the reasons behind the deaths.
Professor Ridwanur Rahman, former head of the medicine department at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, told The Business Standard that as respiratory problems resemble coronavirus symptoms, it is necessary to test for coronavirus. "Because, without a test we cannot confirm if a person died from coronavirus or other diseases."
Besides, if a patient dies after suffering from cough, fever and respiratory problems for less than 10 days, he or she has to be buried in the same way that a coronavirus victim would be buried, he added. Otherwise, community transmission risk might go up, he said.
The Health Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) registers information of patients at government hospitals across Bangladesh.
The control room data shows that as many as 11,930 people were infected with acute respiratory infection, 23,420 with diarrhoea and 18,820 with fever, hepatitis, dysentery and conjunctivitis in March 2020.
The total number of cases are ten times higher than that in the same period last year.
No data of deaths caused by those diseases was recorded at the Health Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room in March.
Dr Ayesha Akter, assistant director at the health directorate's control room, said they register information on winter diseases from November to March 15 every year. At present, they do not have any data on deaths from fever and respiratory problems.
Dr Robed Amin, Associate Professor of Medicine, Dhaka Medical College, told The Business Standard that they have not yet identified the actual cause of death from fever, cough and respiratory problems.
When a patient catches a disease, it becomes necessary to do tests. The scientific evaluation was not conducted to confirm whether the 46 patients died from new diseases, he added.
Many patients die every year, but there is no death audit or analysis. It is essential to identify the actual cause of death.
Regarding rumours over more deaths from coronavirus, IEDCR Director Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora at an online briefing yesterday said, "We did not find any coronavirus infection in the samples we have collected from the deceased people. So, we want to assure people that they were not infected with Covid-19."
The IEDCR director, however, could not mention how many dead bodies have been tested for Covid-19.