“More people are dying here than getting cured. It is alarming that children and young people also died here. But the scenario is different in other countries. This is because our health system is weak”
Unlike the mortality trend in other countries, death from coronavirus infection in Bangladesh presents a unique case, available data show. While the elderly are mostly dying from the virus around the world, it is less discriminating in Bangladesh.
The dead include a wide cross section of the population. There are children in the list of dead. There are relatively younger persons among the dead as well, who are expected to have stronger immune systems. There are higher fatalities among the elderlies and socio-economic background does not seem to be a factor as to who will survive. In other words, everyone is being affected by the disease.
However, most of the deceased in China or Europe were elderly people or the ones suffering from other diseases.
As of April 9, 2020, the case fatality rate of Covid-19 ranged at 4.03 percent in China, lower than the global level at 5.95 percent. But the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that mortality increased with age among infected patients.
As of February 17, 2020, the fatality rate of patients aged 80 years and older was 14.8 percent in China, says Statista, a German online portal for statistics.
Since Spain confirmed its first case, the number of recoveries in the country registered was higher than that of deaths, with over 74.8 thousand patients who recovered from the disease. However, as of March 24, 2020, the fatality rate of patients aged 80 years and older, the group most hardly hit, was 15.6 percent.
As of April 15, the spread of Covid-19 in Italy has mostly hit people over 50 years of age. Data shows mortality rate appeared to be higher for the elderly patient. In fact, for people between 80 and 89 years of age, the fatality rate was 30.5 percent, says Statista.
But the pattern of Covid-19 death rates in Bangladesh appears to be different from the available date released by the authorities. A child died recently from corona infection while some other deceased were 25-40 years old.
Most of the deceased in Bangladesh died immediately after being taken to the hospital or were brought to the hospital after death. Some were even found to have coronavirus after death.
To make sense of the death trend in Bangladesh, The Business Standard has looked into the data on death from different sources.
It has traced the age of 55 deceased. Among them, 22 people fall in the 60 plus age range, 15 in 51-59 years, 11 in 41-50 years, six in 30-40 years and there is a six-year-old child too.
The deceased were from high-income and low-income groups. The information on the socio-economic background of 37 deceased show that 21 of the deceased were from well-off families, 16 were from low-income and poor families.
Death has spread to different districts of the country including Dhaka, Chattogram, Mymensingh, Sylhet and Chandpur.
The dead include businessmen, teachers, doctors, labourers, housewives, private sector employees, returnee migrants and retired professionals.
So far, more than five businessmen, including Taslim Akhter, chairman of Prince Garments Limited, have succumbed to the virus.
Five labourers from different sectors, including construction, brickfield, and clothes shop, have died.
A 35-years-old construction labourer died in Dumki Upazila of Patuakhali on April 10.
A Malaysian returnee and resident of Brahmanbaria's Nasirnagar, 35-year-old Shah Alam, died on April 8.
A six-year-old physically disabled child and a mentally disabled woman died in Chattogram. The child was from a well-off family while the woman was from a poor one.
However, experts told the Business Standard that people of different age ranges and social status are dying in Bangladesh due to covid-19.
The experts also say that Covid-19 is not sparing anyone in Bangladesh. The data does not show that any specific group or type of people are falling victim to the disease. People of all backgrounds, ages and social strata are dying from it.
Professor Dr Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and a virologist, said, "It cannot be confirmed which class of people are mostly dying now. But death does not respect class. People are dying because of mismanagement in hospitals."
"More people are dying here than getting cured. It is alarming that a child and young people also died here. But the scenario is different in other countries. This is because our health system is weak.
"Most patients are not getting the right treatment while many are dying for not being tested. Also, our youths have low immunity and some even have other comorbidities. This is the reason many young people are dying here. But we cannot arrive at a conclusion at this point as we do not have enough data for that.
"We need more cases to be sure which age group is being affected by corona most. The Directorate General of Health Services is not giving the right account of the death rate. They are just giving the death toll number and the age of the deceased. Such information is not enough to do analysis. The DGHS will have to do their reporting right. They will have to find out why young people are dying from corona infection and take action."
Assistant Professor of the Virology Department at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital Dr Jahidur Rahman told The Business Standard, "The most worrying thing is that the death rate from the infection is alarmingly high: 75 deaths from 1,838 infections. Many patients remain untested because of the lower number of tests performed.
"We have to do more tests or else the death toll will rise."
Although there is no government published list of such deaths, the IEDCR on Friday declared that 47 percent of the deceased were more than 60 years old. And 75 percent of them were male and 25 percent female.
According to the IEDCR, among the total 1,838 confirmed cases, 68 percent are male and 32 percent are female. The high rate of infection has been seen among the age group between 21-30 (21 percent), next age group 31-40 (19 percent) and age group 41-50 (15 percent).
Dhaka has the highest number of confirmed cases which is 46 percent, followed by Narayanganj, Gazipur, Chattogram, Munshiganj have a higher rate of infected patients.
According to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), the total death from Covid-19 in Bangladesh was 75 till Friday. The first corona death was confirmed on March 18 in the country.