The detection of COVID-19 cases dropped to less than 3,000 on Friday as the number of tests dropped.
The rate of infections, however, did not decrease despite the decreased numbers of tests in the recent days.
Directorate General of Health Services additional director general Nasima Sultana said on the day that 13,488 samples were tested in the past 24 hours across the country ending at 8:00am Friday and 2,949 of them were found positive, raising the total cases to 1,78,443.
Besides, 37 more COVID-19 patients died during the time, taking the total COVID-19 death toll to 2,275, she said.
The government has lowered the number of tests since July 3. Since then, the average daily tests have come down to 14,446 in the eight-day tally. The daily tests neared 20,000 a few days ago.
The average daily case detection dropped to 3,145 during the eight-day period since July 3, with the diagnosis of only 2,949 cases on Friday.
In the eight-day period, the average daily rate of infections was 21.77, which was higher than in the previous week.
The government has recently imposed fees for COVID-19 test in a bid to restrain the number of tests.
The move was criticised by public health experts and it also went against the World Health Organisation 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 reduction in the number of tests,’ said virologist Nazrul Islam.
He said that there was no reason to believe that the identification of fewer cases implied the prevalence of fewer patients.
‘The rate of infections has not decreased,’ he said, adding, ‘That suggests that the low number of tests is the reason for the low number of patients.’
‘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, a former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujub Medical University.
He slammed the imposition of fees 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 for the people.
Bangladesh confirmed its first COVID-19 cases on March 8 and its first death from the novel virus on March 18.
The country is now in the 18th week of infection and passed the 125th day on Friday.
In the past six days of the ongoing 18th week, at least 18,764 COVID-19 patients were identified and 278 people died of the disease.
Nasima said that among the 37 new deceased, 29 were male and eight female.
One of the dead was from the age group of 21–30 years, another one from the age group of 31–40 years, seven were between 41 and 50 years, nine between 51-60 years, 15 between 61-70 years and four were between 71and 80 years.
On Friday, there were 89,762 active COVID-19 cases in the country, but only 4,587, or 5.11 per cent, of them were taking treatment at hospitals.
Although dedicated hospital beds for COVID-19 patients remained vacant, patients were opting for staying at home.
The number of deaths of COVID-19 patients at home has also been going up.
On Friday, 14 of the 37 Covid-19 deaths occurred at homes, Nasima said.
At least 63 people have died at home in the past six days of the current week and 420 since May 17, according to the DGHS.
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