Bangladesh edging towards uncertainty

We are in the first wave of infections: IEDCR

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 23:14, Apr 21,2020


Infections with the novel coronavirus are increasing rapidly in Bangladesh as the country is now in the sixth week following the identification of the first COVID-19 patient on March 8.

But experts said that with current test pattern, the actual scenario about the prevalence of COVID-19 patients and when the country would reach the peak of infections remained unpredictable.

‘Though six weeks have passed since the first confirmed case, we are still in the dark about the prevalence and trend of the infection due to unorganised testing methods,’ said noted virologist Nazrul Islam.

‘It is still unpredictable about when the country will reach the peak of infections due to the faulty method and low number of tests,’ he told New Age.

By the end of the 45th day on Tuesday, Bangladesh registered 3,382 cases with 110 deaths from COVID-19.

So far, Bangladesh tested 26,604 people and found 3,382 cases positive for the novel coronavirus.

Data showed that different countries witnessed high number of patients when they were in the sixth week, a time when they also increased their number of tests.

By the end of the sixth week since the first infections on January 20, the USA registered 754 cases with 26 deaths testing 5,177 people.

The first infections in the UK were on January 31 and by the end of the sixth week, their cases reached 3,983 with 177 deaths while 72,818 people were tested.

In Germany, the number of tests were 2,52,173 by the end of six weeks as their first infections with COVID-19 was detected on January 27. They registered 3,795 cases with 8 deaths during the period.

In France, the first infections were reported on January 24 and by the end of the sixth week, tests were done on 36,747 people with identification of 4,499 people with 91 deaths.

In Italy, the number of cases were 47,021 including 4,032 deaths after testing 2,33,222 people by the end of the sixth week following the first COVID-19 case found on January 31.

In South Korea, the number of tests were 2,10,144 with 7,513 confirmed cases and 54 deaths by the end of the sixth week after its first infection with coronavirus occurred on January 20.

In India, the first COVID-19 infection was reported on January 30 and by the end of the sixth week, they tested 14,376 people with identification of 191 cases including four deaths.

Virologist Nazrul Islam, also a former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said that the number of tests was still low and the sample collections were not being done proportionately from all geographical locations in Bangladesh.

This pattern of testing is affecting the findings of how many people were actually infected and which areas were more affected, he said.  

‘With the current of number of tests and the patterns of identification of COVID-19 patients in Bangladesh, we cannot say that all the infected patients have not yet been detected, but we can clearly see that the infections are continuing,’ said Nazrul.

‘We have to pay for the delay in decentralising tests from one single centre in the capital,’ he said as the centralised tests kept all in the dark about the prevalence of COVID-19 patients and how they were spreading the disease unknowingly.

Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research consultant Mustuq Husain said, ‘We are in the first wave of infections of COVID-19.’

‘We are witnessing a daily increase of patients which confirms that the infections are on a rising trend,’ he said.

‘We are still in the dark about where we are heading, but our current steps will be crucial in determining the consequences of the novel coronavirus outbreak,’ he added.

Mustuq said that the IEDCR started working to develop a method to predict when the country will witness the peak time of the infections.

Nazrul said that it would be difficult to let people keep under lockdown for long as the low-income people are struggling to meet their daily needs and the economy is plunging.

‘It will be difficult for the government to decide when the lockdown will be lifted without a valid situation report on when the country is likely to reach the peak in coronavirus infections,’ he said.

‘But the decision about lifting the lockdown without valid information will be suicidal,’ he added.

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