The daily Covid test positivity soared to 13.25 per cent in Bangladesh on Thursday, after more than one and a half months, as the number of cases continued to surge, especially in bordering northern districts.
The authorities in Rajshahi on Thursday imposed a lockdown on Rajshahi metropolitan city with effect from 5:00pm today till June 17 to curb the fast growing Covid infections.
Covid-19 killed 40 more people and 2,576 new cases were detected across the country in 24 hours till 8:00am on Thursday.
With the latest figures, the country’s Covid death toll has reached 12,989 and the number of cases 8,20,395.
The daily test positivity rate on Thursday, when 19,447 samples were tested, was the highest after April 23, when the rate was 14 per cent.
The rate has increased by 2.53 percentage points for the past five days.
Health experts warned that it would be another wave of Covid infections if the infection rate continued to rise.
With the rising numbers of Covid cases and deaths in different districts like Rajshahi and Khulna, the authorities continued to struggle on Thursday to ensure healthcare and testing facilities.
People were in desperate need of intensive care unit facilities and hospital beds as hospitals could not cope with the rising number of patients even after adding additional beds.
Virologist Professor Nazrul Islam said that Bangladesh was heading towards a ‘dangerous destination’ gradually for the authorities’ management failure.
He said that the testing coverage was not expanded to bordering districts where the positivity rate was high and pragmatic quarantine and lockdown were absent, although the authorities had announced ‘strict lockdown’ at places in the districts.
He also said that health care facilities were not improved even after directives issued by prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
New Age correspondent in Rajshahi reported that the authorities while announcing a ‘strict lockdown’ on the metropolitan city had asked all shops to close operation and people to remain at their home with effect from 5:00pm today till June 17 midnight.
Rajshahi Medical College Hospital struggled to cope with the increasing number of Covid patients although the authorities had added 99 more beds in two phases in the past two weeks.
As of Thursday, a total of 290 patients were in the hospital’s Covid unit, which has 268 beds, including 18 ICU beds.
Over 50 patients were waiting for ICU beds in the hospital.
RMCH deputy director Saiful Ferdous said that they had already proposed that the government should open a 100-bed Covid hospital in Rajshahi to cope with the increasing pressure of patients.
He told New Age that 169 out of 404 samples tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours in two labs of the hospital.
He said that they could not test all suspects due to limitations in testing facilities.
RMCH virology department head and labs in-charge Professor Sabera Gulnahar told New Age that they were receiving around 800 samples a day for testing.
‘We are now able to test only 400-500 samples a day in five shifts and rest of the samples are kept pending,’ she added.
They have recently sent 400 pending samples to Dhaka for testing, she said, adding that sending samples to Dhaka is very costly.
RMCH ICU in-charge Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal told New Age that each of the admitted patients needed high-flow oxygen facilities.
‘If someone dies or a patient’s situation improves, a patient in need of ICU supports gets the bed,’ he added.
He also said that most of the patients were dying at the ICU as they were admitted in critical condition.
Our correspondent in Khulna reported that 140 patients were undergoing treatment in the 100-bad Covid-dedicated hospital in Khulna.
The hospital coordinator Dr Mehedi Newaj said that 10 patients were in the waiting list for ICU beds as all the 20 ICU beds of the hospital were occupied.
‘Another 100-bed Covid-dedicated hospital with ICU facilities is needed in Khulna on an emergency basis,’ he said.
Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research adviser Mohammad Mushtuq Hussain told New Age that the increasing trend of the positivity rate was still considered as part of the second wave of the Covid outbreak and the rate might continue increasing for two more weeks.
He said that the test positivity was increasing for the infectious Delta variant of coronavirus, better known as the Indian variant.
‘If the increasing trend cannot be stopped soon, the country will see another wave of Covid infections,’ he said, adding that the virus is spreading very rapidly to new areas, infecting people there massively.
According to the daily press statement of the Directorate General of Health Services, among the 40 people died in the past 24 hours, 31 were men and nine were women.
Eight of them were from Dhaka division, 12 Chattogram, 8 Rajshahi, 6 Khulna, 2 Sylhet and 4 Rangpur.
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