They said relaxing the lockdown, sluggish testing and a fragile healthcare system caused the number of cases to rise
Amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in Chattogram, health experts have projected that the novel coronavirus will reach its peak in the port city this month.
They said cases would double in July and infections would reach their peak if effective measures were not taken.
Public health expert Dr Sushanta Barua said the peak occurs when infections continue to rise sharply until the highest number of infections is recorded.
"Then, cases will start declining," he said.
"Considering the overall situation, it is estimated that the pandemic will reach its peak in July," added Dr Sushanta.
According to experts, relaxing the lockdown, sluggish testing and a fragile healthcare system caused the number of cases to increase.
Until June 30, a total 8,852 cases were recorded in Chattogram, and 6,661 of the cases were contracted in June.
Dr Aniruddha Ghosh, professor of the medicine department at Chattogram Medical College Hospital, said many did not follow health guidelines when the shutdown was in force.
"Once the restrictions were lifted, people resumed moving around, which caused the virus to spread. If the shutdown was in force, the virus would have been confined to a specific area and the number of infections would not have risen so fast," he explained.
Apart from infections, deaths also rose in June in the port city. Of the 178 deaths recorded until June, 99 died last month.
The infection-to-testing ratio is also high in the port city – 31.66 percent against the countrywide figure of 19 percent. According to the local civil surgeon's office, there were 8,852 cases and 27,959 tests until June 30.
However, the recovery rate rose in June. Of the 1,065 patients recorded until last month, 838 recovered.
The pandemic, which originated late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is far from over, with some countries reporting a second wave of infections.
The first Covid-19 patient in Chattogram was diagnosed on April 3. The 65-year-old man, a resident of the city's Dampara area, later recovered.
Chattogram General Hospital's novel coronavirus unit coordinator Dr Mostafa Jamal said infections were rising at a geometric rate.
He said samples were not being tested as per demand, causing infections to rise fast.
Cases would not have spiked so fast had people been able to isolate properly, added the doctor.
Dr Sushanta said saving patients should now be the key focus as the novel coronavirus had spread at the community level in Chattogram.
He emphasised the importance of improving the healthcare system to that end.
Private medical college hospitals should launch novel coronavirus units in addition to the state-run ones, said Dr Sushanta.
"Moreover, oxygen plants should be set up and high-flow nasal cannulas should be arranged for."
Chattogram health department officials said local people were not following the health guidelines strictly.
Civil Surgeon Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi said people from every corner of the country come to Chattogram as it is a trade hub, and that is why the virus is spreading fast.
"I announced in February that the port city is the riskiest area, but we observed that the locals were not following the health rules properly. They got around and were indifferent to using protective equipment," he explained.
Two private labs in the port city have so far been permitted to test samples, said the civil surgeon.
He said private novel coronavirus hospitals were also being given quick approvals.
"Moreover, government-run testing capacity has been widened – from 800-1,000 samples on average per day to 1,200-1,300."
Dr Rabbi emphasised the importance of raising public awareness, saying, "otherwise, the virus cannot be contained."