Five more identified as government ramps up testing

Staff Correspondent | Published: 12:29, Apr 03,2020 | Updated: 00:18, Apr 04,2020


Health minister Zahid Maleque speaks on an online press conference on Friday. — video grab

At least five new coronavirus patients have been identified in the capital and in Rajshahi in the last 24 hours until Friday morning during when authorities also collected the highest-ever 523 samples in a single day.

The diagnosis results of the newly collected samples will not be available before Saturday, said the health services directorate.

The surge in sample collection was witnessed after the prime minister had ordered at least 1,000 tests a day on Thursday, including two samples from each upazila.

The samples of the newly infected ones tested positive among 203 samples collected between Wednesday and Thursday morning, according to the health services.

Coronavirus diagnosis is still far from easily accessible in the country with ten laboratories operating in the capital and five others in the districts to detect the new coronavirus in a country of 160 million.

Several neighbourhoods were put under lockdown in Cumilla, Barishal, Narayanganj, Sunamganj and Magura after five people had died with coronavirus symptoms since Wednesday but their cause of death was not confirmed.

‘Soon we will have more laboratories to test coronavirus infected patients,’ said health minister Zahid Maleuqe as he urged more people to get tested to contain the spread of the virus at an online press conference.

The latest coronavirus infection tally took the total number of coronavirus positive patients to 61 since the first patient was detected on March 8, said the minister.

Of the infected, 26 have recovered, the minister said.

The number of laboratories carrying out tests for coronavirus will be increased to 28, said the health services director general Abul Kalam Azad at the same press conference. 

Of the four infected with the virus in Dhaka, one was a journalist, who was a cameraperson of private news channel Independent Television.

The television channel put 47 employees in home quarantine as a precautionary measure after their colleague was found infected, said the television channel’s editor-in-chief.

Of the samples collected in the 24 hours ending at 8:00am Friday, 397 samples were collected from 42 districts, said Azad.

IEDCR collected 126 samples during the same time.

Usually it takes about four hours to test samples collected from each individual as nasal and throat swabs, said IEDCR officers.

Sending samples for testing has become time consuming as the labs are far away and limited in number.

Outside Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Mymensingh and Coxs Bazar have a lab each for testing samples.

On Friday, IEDCR updated its map showing the new coronavirus transmission in Dhaka city corporations and elsewhere in the country.

In Dhaka, coronavirus positive patients were found in Uttara, Uttarkhan, Khilkhet, Baridhara, Banani, Gulshan, Mohakhali, Rampura, Mirpur 10 and 11, Mohammadpur, Lalmatia, Rampura, Kalabagan, Hazaribagh, Maghbazar, Shegunbagicha, Bashabo, Banglabazar and Jatrabari.

The other districts infected by the novel coronavirus included Rangpur, Gaibandha, Chuadanga, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Cumilla, Madaripur and Cox’s Bazar.

The government has long been promising expansion of the coronavirus testing facilities across the divisions but failed to fully implement it.

The prime minister’s call to increase daily test ratio came amid the growing criticism of the government that it was doing far less than required to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Media reported on treatment denial to a number of suspected COVID-19 patients after individuals released video clips on social media complaining about being repeatedly turned down by the IEDCR for a test and other hospitals refusing to treat them.

Nearly 66,000 people called government offices dealing with emergency calls in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in 24 hours until Friday morning. But the number of people tested so far since the first patient was reported on March 8 was below 2,113.

During the press conference, referring to the social media, the health minister regretted reports of private hospitals and clinics denying treatment to patients with symptoms similar to that of COVID-19.

‘It is really sad that hospitals are denying patients the necessary treatment. We warn such hospitals of consequences,’ said Zahid Maleque.

Health directorate’s DG Azad said that allegations like doctors not attending to patients with symptoms of fever and cough came from government hospitals as well.

‘We are not calling on physicians to treat suspected COVID-19 patients in general wards but we expect that they would be properly advised about where to seek treatment,’ said Azad.

So far six people have died in Bangladesh since the first COVID-19 patient was reported on March 18.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services 16,453 people are still in quarantine while 48,041 people were released from home quarantine across the country.

There are 82 people in isolation at present, said the health services.

The health services added that 3.66 lakh pieces of personal protective equipment have already been distributed among healthcare providers across the country.

The government also has a stock of 71,000 testing kits and 64,000 PPE with more shipments on the way.

Nearly 100 families were put in lockdown in Barishal, Cumilla, Narayanganj, Sylhet and Magura after five people with symptoms similar to that of coronavirus infection died in the districts since Wednesday, reported New Age correspondents in the districts.

Authorities collected samples of the deceased and sent them to different labs in Dhaka to confirm the cause of their deaths.

Want stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up to exclusive daily email