Bangladesh identified its first three Covid-19 patients on March 8. Within just a month, the number of people testing positive for the novel coronavirus reached 218 and the death toll stood at 20.
The Covid-19 outbreak has spread to 23 districts outside Dhaka. Thirty three people have also made a full recovery.
Since January 21 this year, a total of 5,164 coronavirus tests have been carried out across the country. As many as 981 tests were performed in the 24 hour period from Tuesday 8am to Wednesday 8am this week, when 54 new patients were identified and three people died of the disease.
The Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) used to carry out all the tests. But presently 16 other laboratories are performing coronavirus tests in and outside the capital.
The number of tests being performed on a daily basis is still quite low. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 2 directed authorities concerned to carry out at least 1,000 coronavirus tests daily, but the target has not been achieved as yet.
The Covid-19 pandemic has entered the community transmission phase in Bangladesh. The number of new infections and deaths is going up with each passing day.
At the beginning of this month for a few days, the number new infections doubled each day, but this is no longer the case at present.
Commenting on the matter, Prof Nazrul Islam, a virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said, "We will know the pattern of the Covid-19 outbreak in Bangladesh in the next seven days.
"If Covid-19 patients outside the capital cannot be identified and quarantined properly, the situation will be dire."
Discussing the situation in Narayanganj, Prof Nazrul Islam said, "It a matter of great concern. Narayanganj is under lockdown, but if instructions are not followed properly, the situation will get worse."
The virologist further said, "We must keep the ICU beds and ventilators ready. Doctors and nurses should be kept at the ready around the clock near the 112 ICU beds mentioned by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
"Those beds cannot exist on paper only. ICUs are not only about equipment, there are also many additional matters [needed to make them operational]. Everything must be ready. Doctors and nurses must be trained."
Prof Nazrul pointed out that the failure to properly quarantine returnees from abroad directly resulted in coronavirus infections and deaths across the country, and such a mistake should not be repeated.
Current situation in Bangladesh
From Monday to Tuesday, 95 people tested positive for the coronavirus, and eight patients died.
From March 8 to April 5, the number of Covid-19 patients stood at 88. But on April 6, it increased to 123 people. In the following two days, the number of patients reached 218.
The mortality rate of coronavirus patients in Bangladesh is 9.1 percent and recovery rate is 15.1 percent as of Wednesday. No Covid-19 patients have made a recovery in the country in the last three days.
According to sources from the DGHS, among the coronavirus patients identified in the country, 123 are from 46 areas in Dhaka.
Narayanganj has 46 patients ─ the largest number of patients outside the capital, followed by 11 patients in Madaripur and 5 patients each near Dhaka and in Gaibandha.
In the rest of the country, Chattogram has 3 patients, Chuadanga 1, Cumilla 2, Cox's Bazar 1, Gazipur 1, Jamalpur 2, Keraniganj 1, Kishoreganj 1, Manikganj 3, Moulvibazar 1, Narsingdi 4, Nilphamari 1, Rajbari 1, Rangpur 1, Shariatpur 1, Sherpur 1, Sylhet 1 and Tangail 2.
IEDCR Director Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, in a daily bulletin on Wednesday said, "There are 33 men and 21 women among the newly identified 54 coronavirus patients.
"If categorised in terms of age, 5 patients are between 11-20 years old, 15 between 21-30 years, 10 between 31-40 years, 7 between 41-50 years, 7 between 51-60 years and 10 are above 60 years old."
She added that among the new patients, 39 are from Dhaka, one from near Dhaka and the rest are from other parts of the country.