Bangladesh witnessed a rise in COVID-19 deaths in recent weeks, although the case fatality rate is low compared to other hard-hit countries.
The overall case fatality rate is now 1.37 per cent while the test positivity rate is 20.08 per cent.
Since the first death on March 18, the country in the past 170 days recorded 4,383 COVID-19 deaths, including 32 in the past 24 hours until Thursday morning.
Directorate General of Health Services data showed that the first half of the total COVID-19 deaths occurred in first 124 days while the second half occurred in the last 46 days.
The first coronavirus cases were detected on March 8 in the country and so far tallied 3,19,686 COVID-19 patients, including 2,158 in the past 24 hours.
DGHS additional director general Meerjady Sabrina Flora said that despite the decrease in the every-day case positivity rate, the every-day case fatality rate did not witness any changes.
‘Most of our deaths are elderly and patients who have other diseases,’ she said, adding that a large number of deaths were occurring due to delayed hospitalisation.
‘We will urge the patients and their relatives not to make delay in hospitalisation if they have other diseases and if they are elderly,’ she said.
Meerjady, also the immediate past director of the government’s disease monitoring arm, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said that the IEDCR started an assessment to understand the cause of deaths and how the deaths could be lowered.
The COVID-19 case fatality rate in the first five weeks since the coronavirus appeared in the country was 6.22 per cent.
By the end of the 10th week of infections, the rate dropped to 1.50 per cent.
After the 15th week, the fatality rate dropped to 1.31 per cent while the rate was 1.27 per cent in between 11-15 weeks.
The overall fatality rate dropped to 1.30 per cent by the end of 20th week with the record of 1.29 per cent fatality rate between 16-20 weeks.
In between 21-25 weeks, the case fatality rate was 1.52 per cent, raising the overall rate to 1.36 per cent.
Taking the last five days of the ongoing 26th week into account, the overall case fatality rate now stood at 1.37 per cent until Thursday.
So far, 2,13,980 of the patients recovered, including 2,968 in the past 24 hours.
According to DGHS records, almost about one lakh COVID-19 patients were staying at their homes while around 4,000 are taking treatment at hospitals.
A significant number of patients are dying at homes as well, as the DGHS recorded 623 COVID-19 deaths at homes while 31 died on their way to hospitals since May 17.
DGHS additional director general Meerjady said that the majority of the COVID-19 deaths were occurring within few hours of hospitalisation as they were passing the critical phase at homes.
Noted virologist Nazrul Islam, who is also the member of National Technical Advisory Committee on COVID-19, said that the COVID-19 case fatality rate in Bangladesh was still below the global rate of over 3.3 per cent, but proper management of patients could help even lower the rate further.
The global COVID-19 case fatality rate is 3.38 per cent with war-torn Yemen being at the top with the highest COVID-19 case fatality rate (29 per cent) and Singapore at the bottom with the lowest rate of 0.04 per cent, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
Bangladesh now occupies the 127th position among the 177 countries on the list of COVID-19 case fatality rate.
Nazrul said that COVID-19 patients were not going to hospitals unless their condition took a serious turn, which points to the serious gap in patients’ management by the DGHS.
‘We can ask people with mild symptoms to stay home, but there should have been a measure in place to take the critical patients, patients with comorbidities and elderly patients to hospitals when urgent,’ he said.
He said that people lacked confidence in the treatment provided by the COVID-19 hospitals as media were abounds with stories of neglecting such patients at hospitals during the initial days.
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