Health authorities have found that almost 85% of hospitalised Covid-19 patients are not vaccinated and most of the patients are infected with the Omicron variant of the virus.
With the rapid spread of Omicron, Bangladesh on Tuesday recorded the second highest daily Covid cases and positivity rate since the outbreak hit the country in 2020.
With 16,033 new cases and a positivity rate of 32.40%, 18 more people were reported dead from the infection in the past 24 hours till 8am Tuesday, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
At a virtual discussion with private hospitals on Tuesday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the jump in positivity rate from 1% to 32% is very alarming but very few of those who have been vaccinated are being hospitalised.
"Almost 85% of hospitalised patients are not vaccinated and 80% of the Covid patients are affected by the omicron variant," he added.
Regarding isolation policy revising, the minister said, "The Centre for Disease Control has changed the isolation policy from five days to seven days. This could be implemented in our country as well."
As the infection rate is rising, public health experts have recommended that the government shuts down the ongoing Dhaka International Trade Fair at Purbachal to control the infections.
The highest ever 16,230 cases and 32.55% positivity rate were reported on 24 and 28 July last year. In comparison to that, daily cases and positivity rate are higher in January this year, but the death and hospitalisation rate is less.
An analysis of data from DGHS shows that in July 2021, the average positivity and death rate was 25% and 199.
In the last one week (19-25 January) the positive rate was over 25% and the death rate was 13 on average.
On 28 July last year, when the maximum infection was recorded, 195 people died whereas 18 people died on Tuesday, the day of the second-highest infection.
In the second wave of Covid caused by the Delta variant, 9,000-15,000 patients were diagnosed every day on average from 27 June to 12 August in Bangladesh. Hospitals stopped admitting patients due to the bed crisis. There were also cases of death due to lack of oxygen.
In the third wave, although the infection rate is high due to the effect of the Omicron variant, the rate of death and hospitalisation is lower. There are still 78% vacancies for Covid patients in the hospitals.
Doctors said 80% of patients are receiving treatment at home as most of the people are vaccinated.
Bangladesh has so far registered 28,256 deaths and 17,15,997 infections since the outbreak in March 2020.
Shut down trade fair to curb Covid infections: Advisory committee
The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid on Tuesday recommended that the government shut down the ongoing trade fair at Purbachal in the capital.
"The committee suggests the government be stricter in enforcing restrictions to control the outbreak," NTAC President Dr Md Shahidullah told reporters.
The current restrictions imposed by the government are okay, but these should be implemented strictly. Everyone must wear a mask. South Africa has controlled Covid infections by making mask-wearing mandatory, he added.
"The Omicron variant has been transmitted at the community level but we are not thinking about lockdown considering its effects on livelihood. Therefore, to prevent lockdown, public gatherings should be banned and wearing masks should be made mandatory," he said further.