The government yesterday imposed five-point restrictions, including carrying one's vaccination certificate while going out, as a fresh surge of Covid-19 cases triggered by the highly contagious Omicron variant has pushed the positivity rate up to an alarming 28.49%.
Within a couple of weeks since the first Omicron case was reported, the positivity rate has spiked, reads a press release issued on Friday by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
At the same time, both the number of daily cases and deaths have increased in the country as 11,434 tested positive for Covid-19 and 12 people died.
Under the circumstances, the Cabinet Division on Friday issued fresh restrictions to contain the deadly virus.
Speaking on the fresh set of restrictions, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said, "Anyone who is going outside must carry their vaccination certificates and show them upon request."
Briefing the media on the overall Covid situation in the country on Friday at the conference room of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Friday the minister said the local administration in each district around the country has been directed to increase Covid-19 monitoring to avoid future catastrophe.
The positivity rate crossed the 28% mark after 172 days; it was 26.37% the previous day.
Even at the beginning of December last year, the positivity rate was 1%, which started to move upward with a surge in infections around the latter part of the month.
With the latest figures, the death toll reached 28,192 and the case tally increased to 16,64,616 across the country. Four deaths and 10,888 cases were reported on Thursday. The health officials, meanwhile, tested 40,134 samples across the country during the 24-hour span.
Of the deaths, six were reported in the Dhaka division, two in Sylhet and one each in Chattogram, Khulna, Rangpur and Mymensingh divisions.
Public health experts observed that although the transmission of Omicron was rising in the capital mostly for the past couple of weeks, now it is also spreading across the country.
Welcoming the fresh set of restrictions, they said, if the guidelines and restrictions are not implemented strictly, the result would be even deadlier than last year when the Delta wave inflicted in the country.
Adviser of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research (IEDCR) Dr M Mushtuq Husain told The Business Standard that the transmission is taking place fast in the divisional towns as an impact of Omicron.
"Now we should ensure that following the identification patients are isolated to protect others, and we have to prepare the hospitals to ensure the treatment of patients," he said before adding that public awareness and mass vaccination may help the situation to be stable.
5-point fresh restrictions
"Ultimately, the responsibility falls on the individual's shoulder as well. People should reduce outdoor activities for a while," added the minister.
Earlier in the day, the cabinet issued a set of emergency directives including closing of educational institutions till 6 February and limiting gatherings in social, political, religious or state events to a maximum of 100 people, in a bid to control the alarming rise of Covid-19 infections.
Referring to the government target of inoculating 70% of the population, the health minister said so far around 15 crore doses of vaccines have been administered among the people in the country.
Some 9 crore vaccines have been administered as the first dose and five crores as the second dose. He said the government currently has nine crore jabs in stock and added that some three lakh doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines have also arrived in the country.
The minister assured that everyone will be vaccinated and requested the citizens to help the government control the Covid-19 situation by cooperating and complying with the health regulations.
Covid positivity rate crosses 33% in Chattogram
Covid positivity rate of Chattogram District has crossed 33.01% on Friday. A total of 1,017 people were detected positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours after testing 3,080 samples in 13 laboratories designated for Covid-19 test in the Chattogram district.
The number of infections on Thursday is the highest during the last 20 months in the district that crossed 1000 marks.
Civil surgeon of Chattogram district said the recovery rate is 87.66%. With one more new death recorded during the period, the death toll reached 1,343.
A total of 1252 infected patients are now undergoing treatment at different designated hospitals here, the sources added.