COVID-19 daily cases, positivity rate 3-month high, 26 more die in Bangladesh

Mobile courts ordered against mask-rule violators

Manzur H Maswood | Published: 18:31, Mar 15,2021 | Updated: 00:29, Mar 16,2021


Suspected COVID-19 patients wait in a long queue at the entrance of Mugda General Hospital in Dhaka on Monday for coronavirus test amid a spike in infections in the country. — Sourav Lasker

Bangladesh on Monday recorded 1,773 new COVID-19 cases and 9.48 per cent test positivity rate, both figures about a three-month high.

The daily deaths from the novel virus also jumped — to 26 — on the day, making it the highest daily tally in over two months, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

The worsening COVID-19 situation has stirred the authorities, with the health minister ordering legal actions against those not fol lowing the mandatory mask-use rule.

‘We’ve ordered the authorities concerned to take legal measures, including mobile court operation and fining those who violate the mask-use rule,’ health minister Zahid Maleque told reporters at his office on Monday.

‘The district committees have been asked in writing to ensure that the people follow the health guidelines or they take legal actions against the violators if needed,’ he said, adding that social gatherings will be checked.

The COVID-19 situation has taken a serious turn since the beginning of March after two months of relatively few case detections and deaths in the country.

According to the DGHS update on Monday, 18,695 samples were tested across the country in the past 24 hours ending at 8:00am Monday and 9.48 per cent of them or 1,773 people were tested COVID-19 positive.

Beside, 26 more people died of the disease during the period, the highest daily deaths in 67 days.

The number of daily cases was the highest in 90 days while the test positivity rate the highest in 86 days.

With the fresh figures, the country has so far recorded 5,59,168 cases and 8,571 deaths.  People ignoring health practices like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing have become commonplace in recent days after the country witnessed a comparatively better COVID-19 situation in January and February.

Government leaders also boasted in public meetings that the country did better in reining in the coronavirus spread than many developed countries.

Public health experts said that people’s reluctance to follow the health practices was fuelled by the un-pragmatic and unscientific statements made by people in authority, resulting in deterioration in the COVID-19 situation.

‘The health minister and other people in high government positions in recent months spoke in such a way that Bangladesh succeeded in beating COVID-19 while many avanced countries failed,’ said noted virologist and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University’s former vice-chancellor Nazrul Islam.  ‘Such un-pragmatic and unscientific remarks gave a wrong message to the nation, showing an unrealistic confidence over COVID-19,’ he said.

The health agency on Sunday ordered all the hospitals across the country to prepare for a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections as the pandemic situation has again taken a serious turn in recent days.

The civil surgeons and the directors of medical college hospitals have been asked to keep ready the intensive care units and the hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients under their jurisdiction to deal with a possible second wave of infections.

DGHS chief ABM Khurshid Alam warned of a looming danger amid people’s flagrant disregard for the COVID-19 restrictions.

‘There will be bad news if people do not follow the health rules to stem the spread of COVID-19,’ he said at an event on Sunday.

‘We’ll face a much greater trouble if we continue to ignore the health rules,’ he warned.

Bangladesh confirmed its first three COVID-19 cases on March 8 last year and the country entered the 54th week of its coronavirus outbreak on Sunday.

In the past week, the number of cases and the test positivity rate were the highest in 10 weeks and eight weeks respectively.

Bangladesh started mass vaccination against COVID-19 on February 7, with inoculating of 44.85 lakh people so far, including 87,000 on Monday.

According to Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research principal scientific officer ASM Alamgir, the vaccinated people should also follow the prescribed health practices as the vaccine is not 100 per cent effective.

Want stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up to exclusive daily email