Another COVID-19 patient died and 18 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Bangladesh, health minister Zahid Maleque said Sunday.
With the new figures, the death toll from the virus rose to nine and the infected patients to 88 in the country.
‘It is with deep sorrow that I would like to inform you that the number of infections has increased in our country,’ health minister said at an online press conference.
‘Eighteen more people got infected with coronavirus and one more patient died,’ he said.
The infection of 18 people in a day is a record for Bangladesh since the first COVID-19 patient was detected in the country on March 8 and the first death was reported on March 18.
All the new infected 18 patients were victims of community transmission, revealed Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research director Meerjady Sabrina Flora at the press conference.
‘It is definitely linked to community transmission, but it is still within clusters,’ she said.
Directorate General of Health Services director general Abul Kalam Azad said six areas — two in the capital and three in districts — were clustered as COVID-19-prone areas.
The areas are Basabo and Mirpur in the capital and other areas are in the districts of Narayanganj, Madaripur and Gaibandha, he said.
Meerjady said that the 18 were detected after testing 367 people in the past 24 hours ending at 8:00am on Sunday. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday directed at least 1,000 tests on a day.
Among the 18 patients, 12 are males and 12 females, with 12 from the capital, five from Narayanganj and one from Madaripur.
The novel coronavirus has already spread to 10 districts outside the capital, according to the IEDCR.
In the capital, the number of infections rose to 54 while Madaripur has 11 patients, Narayanganj has 11 patients, Gaibandha has five and one patient each were reported from Gazipur, Chuadanga, Comilla, Cox’s Bazar, Shariatpur, Rangpur and Chattogram.
‘We are finding new patients from communities…We must follow the guidelines of avoiding mass gatherings and outdoor activities, or else the number infections will rise,’ Meerjady said.
She said currently, 46 patients were under treatment — 32 at hospitals and 14 at homes. The other 33 patients already recovered from their infections.
Health minister Zahid Maleque said that testing an increased number of people and isolating them were the key tasks now to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
‘We do not want the infections to increase en masse. Then the situation will go beyond our control like the situation in the USA and Europe,’ he said.
‘Such a situation will be catastrophic,’ he added while calling people to stay home and maintain social distancing.
The minister said that the number of testing facilities was increased to 15 now and the government’s plan was to collect samples from upazilas and districts.
‘We want to increase the daily testing numbers to 1,500,’ he said.
The minister expressed his discontent that the garment workers were brought to Dhaka on Saturday.
‘We will expect that no such thing will occur again. Such act will only help to spread the infections,’ he said.
Zahid said that though he was the head of the national committee on COVID-19, he was not discussed before deciding to open the garment factories.
‘BGMEA and BKMEA are not under the health ministry. They did not feel necessary to ask us about the matter [reopening garments factories during the holiday],’ he said.
‘It was not a right decision,’ the minister said, adding that he was not sure how the workers would go home now.
Replying to a question about the preparation of the government, DGHS director general Azad said that it was not possible to ensure all arrangement overnight.
‘Even the developed countries from where we procure medical equipment are struggling to ensure treatment. Our target is delaying the infections so that a large number of people do not need treatment at once,’ he said.
Azad said the isolation units were opened at all hospitals, including at upazila and district hospitals and ventilation facilities were being installed at medical college hospitals in different districts.
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