By the end of this month, the number of patients will exceed one and a half lakh, according to an expert prediction
The Covid-19 curve continues to be on an uptrend despite three and a half months having elapsed since the first case was confirmed in the country. More than 32,000 people have contracted the highly contagious virus in the past 10 days alone.
Yet there is no specific "projection" of whether the coronavirus is going through its peak time in Bangladesh.
Health experts are divided in opinion, with some saying infections will decline late this month or early next month while some others suggest the country is already going through a peak period.
Professor Shah Munir Hossain, head of a government committee on coronavirus affairs, told The Business Standard, "Nobody can say whether we are at the peak time now. Infections in Bangladesh are still going up. They will continue if we do not take necessary cautionary steps."
An analysis of cases in the past several days suggests that the uptrend will continue for the next eight to fifteen days. By the end of this month, the number of patients will exceed one and a half lakh, he added.
"Our data of the past seven days indicate that infections will begin to decrease by the end of June. However, they will increase again if preventive measures are not taken," said Professor Munir, who is also a former director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
He attributed a deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the country to the consequences of "crowd movements" during the Eid holidays in the recent past.
"We had said that infections in our country would start to go down towards the first week of June if there were no crowd movements during Eid-ul-Fitr. But that did not happen because of the Eid holidays. If something like this happens again, infections will increase again. The only solution is a strict lockdown and adherence to hygiene rules."
The first Covid-19 patient was identified in the country on March 8, while the first death from the virus was reported on March 18. So far, 98,489 people have tested positive and 1,305 have died in the country.
Epidemiologist Dr Md Rizwanul Karim, joint member secretary of the DGHS Integrated Control Room on Covid-19 Affairs, said the peak of the infections means that it will remain at a high level for a few days and then will begin to go down.
"We are heading towards the peak time, maybe beginning in the last week of June or the first week of July."
However, IEDCR Advisor Dr M Mushtuq Hussain said the peak period will not come to Bangladesh on the basis of any such formula.
He said there had been a sudden outburst of Covid-19 during peak time in places like Italy, the United States and China's Wuhan.
But if there is no sudden outbreak in Bangladesh, there will be no such peak time similar to that in other countries. Infections noticed all over the country are generalised in nature. The peak here is of the slow burning sort. Public health measures like isolation and quarantine should be taken to ward off such infections, he opined.
However, Nazrul Islam, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and a virology expert, said the country is indeed going through a peak period, given the statistics of the last few days.
He told The Business Standard that the daily rate of infection has been hovering around 20-22 percent for the past three weeks. Although the number has increased, the rate of detection has neither risen nor dropped compared to the number of tests. "It means we are at the peak time now. Currently the emphasis is on reducing transmission."
Professor Nazrul Islam said the lockdown must be strictly enforced to bring transmission down from the peak.
All necessary measures, including locating victims in locked-down areas and arranging tests for them, and ensuring quarantine for those who have come in contact with the infected should be implemented well. In addition, personal protection, including wearing masks, must be ensured, he suggested.