COVID-19 patients dying at homes in Bangladesh

Manifestation of sheer negligence, experts say

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 19:18, May 19,2020 | Updated: 23:55, May 19,2020


After the incidents of many patients dying with COVID-19 symptoms but untested, now confirmed novel coronavirus patients are dying also at home or being brought dead to hospitals in the country, officials confirmed.

Directorate General of Health Services additional director general Nasima Sultana said in Tuesday’s COVID-19 bulletin that six patients died at home and eight others were brought dead to hospitals In the past two days.

‘We are now seeing that some patients, who were earlier released from hospitals, are dying at home,’ she clarified to New Age.

‘Besides, some others, who were taking treatment at home, are dying there,’ she added.

Bangladesh had adopted a protocol that said that no COVID-19 patient could be declared ‘cured’ without two confirmatory tests finding them negative for the infection.

But the country witnessed a dramatic rise in recovery after the DGHS on May 3 adopted a new criterion for determining recovery.

The new rule says that a patient can be declared cured without the two requisite confirmatory tests done if they do not show any symptoms like fever, coughing and breathing difficulties.

Until May 2, the number of recovered patients was 177, but the new criterion resulted in a surge of recovered patients to 886 from 177 within a gap of 24 hours.

As of Tuesday, the recovered patients numbered 4,993 as the application of the new criterion remains in effect.

Virologist and former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Nazrul Islam said that it was a ‘manifestation of sheer negligence’ towards the COVID-19 patients by the DGHS.

‘Declaring any COVID-19 patient recovered before their actual recovery increases their vulnerability to severe consequences like death at home and heightened risks of unknowingly spreading the virus to others,’ he said.

He criticised the release of coronavirus patients from hospitals without all confirmatory tests carried out.

‘COVID-19 patients at home are left grossly uncared for, pushing them to death without proper care,’ said Nazrul.

‘Again, who are being admitted to hospitals are being released before they have recovered, but they are not being followed up by doctors after they return home,’ he added.

Nasima did not answer when asked if the new recovery criterion was a reason for the deaths of patients at home.

The media also abounds with reports of many people dying with symptoms of COVID-19, but they are untested.

According to a study released on Tuesday by Bangladesh Peace Observatory, a United Nations Development Program-funded research organisation, at least 1,010 people have died in Bangladesh with COVID-19 symptoms in 70 days since March 8.

Bangladesh has so far registered 25,121 COVID-19 patients with 370 deaths from the infection.

The country passed the 73rd day on Tuesday since the first infections in the country were reported on March 8.

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