The numbers of coronavirus deaths and infections kept soaring in Bangladesh with three new deaths and 35 new infections confirmed in the 24 hours until 8:00am Monday.
So far, the new coronavirus has taken 12 lives and infected 123 people as the virus spread to 15 districts of the country with cluster transmissions confirmed in various areas.
Cluster transmissions have been confirmed in important cities like Dhaka and Narayanganj as well as in outlying districts such as Madaripur and Gaibandha.
‘We can call it a cluster transmission when many people are infected in an area and there is the risk that they might infect others,’ said Health Services director general Abul Kalam Azad at a press conference online.
Azad described the infection of 68 people in Dhaka, 23 in Narayanganj, 11 in Madaripur and five in Gaibandha as cases of cluster transmission.
‘Sadly, the number of infected people keeps rising in Bangladesh,’ he said.
On Sunday, 18 new infections and one death were reported while nine infections and two deaths were confirmed the day before.
The new tally of deaths and infections came from 468 samples tested at 15 laboratories in the country, including the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research and eight others in Dhaka, in the 24 hours since Sunday morning.
Bangladesh has ramped up its capacity to diagnose COVID-19 since April 3, almost a month after the disease first emerged in the country and 16 days after the first death was recorded.
For nearly a month since the detection of the first case, less than 100 tests had been conducted daily ignoring warnings from experts as well as the WHO that a low number of tests would give rise to more infections.
The latest tallies of deaths and infections represent the largest ever figures to be recorded in a day since the new coronavirus infected the first man in the country on March 8.
The three new deaths included a 48-year-old government officer who was a director at the Anti-Corruption Commission on deputation and died at Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital in Dhaka.
Although the IEDCR refused to release particulars about coronavirus patients, its director Meerjady Sabrina Flora said that the man who died in the capital had been on ventilator for a week.
The Health Services said that the man had asthma, a physical condition that renders the patient vulnerable to infection by the new coronavirus.
The two other that died hailed from Narayanganj and were brought to the hospital in a critical condition and they expired immediately afterward, said Meerjady.
The IEDCR could not confirm any of the sources of the new 35 infections.
‘Contact-tracing can get difficult sometimes when an infected person attended a big public meeting or interacted with a large number of people,’ said Meerjady.
She said that they were able to contact-trace 88 infections and isolate them.
A cloak of panic enveloped the country as coronavirus infections and death counts spiked at the beginning of this week after the shutdown was announced on March 26.
Many areas have meanwhile been locked down with reports of groups of youths standing guard at important points in parts of the capital to keep people from coming out of home and trace suspected COVID-19 patients.
Health Services boss Azad urged people not to get panicked seeing their people visiting a home for collecting samples. He spoke of reports about locals locking down houses visited by IEDCR people.
‘Some of our tests are part of contact-tracing but some are conducted on a random basis,’ he said.
‘Let the authorities decide which area or house is to be locked down,’ said Azad.
Earlier, in the morning in an emergency meeting with people working in the health sector, health minister Zahid Maleque described the next 10 to 15 days to be crucial for controlling the coronavirus spread.
The minister also reported four deaths and 29 new infections in the 24 hours until Monday morning, which did not match with the information released by the Health Services in the afternoon, giving rise to confusion.
Azad implied at the press briefing that the information the minister revealed was not properly verified.
Journalists who participated in the online press conference complained about a serious lack of coordination among the authorities tackling the coronavirus crisis.
They said that many sick people were denied treatment in government and non-government hospitals in the country for physicians are afraid of attending patients without personal protective equipment.
The Health Services said that over 5.50 lakh sets of PPE were collected and most of them were distributed among all government hospitals.
‘Physicians do not need to wear PPE for seeing outdoor patients,’ said Azad, suggesting that they should wear it only when dealing with suspected COVID-19 patients.
Azad encouraged people with symptoms of fever and cold to stay at home and self-medicate with medicines such as paracetamol and cough syrup until their condition went really bad.
Aside from cluster transmissions, three people were infected in Jamalpur, two in Chattogram, and one each in Chuadanga, Cumilla, Cox’s Bazar, Gazipur, Moulvibazar, Narsingdi, Rangpur, Shariatpur and Sylhet.
Of the new 35 infections, 12 were confirmed in Narayanganj, 10 in Dhaka and one in Chattogram.
The rest of the infections were detected in districts such as Jamalpur, Moulvibazar, Narsingdi and Sylhet where the spread of the new coronavirus was reported for the first time.
‘Narayanganj turned out to be a hot spot of coronavirus infection,’ said Meerjady.
In Dhaka, the worst-affected areas included Basabo, Mirpur and Tolarbagh.
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