COVID-19 test drops, daily infection rate hits 24pc in Bangladesh

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 14:51, Jul 11,2020 | Updated: 00:13, Jul 12,2020


Bangladesh witnessed an unusual increase in daily COVID-19 infection rate as nearly one in four people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours till 8:00am Saturday.

The infection rate kept rising while the government reduced the number of tests.

In the past 24 hours, 11,193 samples were tested and 2,686 of them found positive for COVID-19 and the infection rate was 24 per cent, Directorate General of Health Services additional director general Nasima Sultana said in the daily online bulletin.

This is the highest daily infection in Bangladesh. The second highest daily infection rate was recorded 22.97 per cent on July 7. The overall infection rate is 19.49 per cent in the country.

Bangladesh registered the first COVID-19 cases on March 8. The country passed 18 weeks of the infection on Saturday, with so far 181,129 COVID-19 patients so far recorded in the country.

The outgoing 18th week witnessed 22.02 per cent infection rate, second highest for a week despite a record low number of tests in the week.

The infection rate was 22.40 per cent in 16th week, when the number of tests was over 15,000 than that of 18th week.

The number of COVID-19 tests dropped significantly in recent weeks.

The number of tests in the 18th week was 97,391, lowest in the past five weeks and 23 per cent lower than that of the 17th week.

The number of tests decreased after the government imposed fees on the tests from the beginning of the July.

Since July 3, the average daily tests dropped 14,085 with 11,193 tests in past 24 hours ending 8:00am Saturday.

The number of patients also dropped as the number of tests also dropped.

In the 18th week, the number of detection was 21,450, about 4,000 less than that in each of the 17th week and the 16th week.

The imposition of fee on the test was criticised by public health experts and it also went against the World Health Organization advice for widespread testing to identify as many COVID-19 patients as possible.

‘The low number of cases is an outcome of the low number of tests and the imposition of fees on the tests might be the reason for the drop in the number of tests,’ said virologist Nazrul Islam.

He said that there was no reason to believe that the detection of fewer cases implied the prevalence of fewer patients.

‘The infection rate has not decreased and it suggests that the low number of tests is the reason for the low number of patients,’ he said.

‘If we collect 30 samples from each of the country’s upazilas, the number of tests will be some 15,000, let alone the highly infected areas in Dhaka and Chattogram,’ said Nazrul, also vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujub Medical University.

He slammed the imposition of fee on COVID-19 test which, he said, curtailed people’s right to healthcare.

‘It’s a counterproductive idea and low-income group people have largely been affected by this move,’ said Nazrul, also a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19.

Bangladesh Health Rights Movement president Rashid-e-Mahbub said that charging for COVID-19 test in a pandemic like this was an anti-people move as it was the government’s duty to ensure the test and treatment of the people.

Nasima said that 30 people died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll from the novel coronavirus to 2,305 in the country.

Among the 30 new death, 11 died at homes and one died on way to hospital, she said.

In the 18th week, at least 74 COVID-19 patients died at homes and two died on way to hospital.

Since May 17, at least 431 COVID-19 patients have died at home and 29 died on way to hospital, according to the health services.

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