A total of 82 people died at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) in the last four days until 23 July. Of them, 21 were tested Covid-19 positive, one negative and 60 others had coronavirus-like symptoms – which means the hospital in the last four day registered more Covid suspected deaths than the confirmed Covid fatalities.
In the past 24 hours until Friday morning, six people died at RMCH from Covid-19 while the hospital logged 15 deaths with coronavirus symptoms. During the time, six in Kushtia, 11 in Mymensingh and 13 people in Barisal also died with similar symptoms.
The health directorate in its daily bulletin updates the media about the deaths in the past 24 hours across the country, but it only counts deaths with confirmed Covid infection.
The daily death tally in Bangladesh did not fall below 100 in July as doctors said more people from villages are dying with symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing issues.
RMCH Director Brigadier General Dr Shamim Yazdani said most of their patients are from rural areas, and they usually do not go for coronavirus tests when they develop the symptoms.
"With severe breathing issues, the patients come to the hospital at least 10-12 days after the fever, muscle pain or cough. We find their oxygen saturation level at an alarming level though many of them come Covid negative in the RT-PCT test," said the RMCH director.
He said if such patients die, they do not include them in the government death count. In such cases, doctors do not collect medical samples of the deceased to confirm the cause of death; in the death certificates, they rather mention the cause of death as "Covid suspected".
Dr Yazdani said they daily get 10-12 patients who recently had fever while two-three individuals die everyday at RMCH even before doctors begin the treatment.
"If the patients could be isolated as soon as the symptoms develop, many of them would not have to lose the fight against the virus. Besides, the virus spread could be far less than what it is now," he added.
The Bangladesh Peace Observatory (BPO), a UNDP-funded project under the Dhaka University's Centre for Genocide Studies, has been publishing reports about deaths with coronavirus-like symptoms.
According to the latest BPO report, 486 individuals died from 23 June to 6 July across Bangladesh. The death tally was only 151 in the previous week.
In the previous timeline of the report, the areas of suspected deaths were centred in Rajshahi and Khulna. But in the latest timeline, suspected deaths in Mymensingh and Dhaka divisions have also increased substantially.
According to the BPO, 2,939 people have died so far with Covid symptoms since the virus was reported in Bangladesh in March last year. Chattogram, Khulna, Rajshahi and Dhaka have more suspected deaths compared to other divisions.
'Complicated test procedures to blame'
Dr Rajib Dey Sarker, registrar at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital in Dhaka, said complicated test procedures are contributing to the increasing number of suspected deaths.
"We are getting more patients from the districts this time. If a patient cannot submit the medical sample by noon, they will have to wait at our hospital isolation centre for the lab to open the next day.
And if the patient can submit their sample next day, they will have to wait another seven-eight hours for the report to come out," he told The Business Standard.
Dr Sarker said patients with critical issues do not last that long as doctors cannot initiate Covid treatment protocol until the test report comes out.
He said Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital now records 10-12 suspected Covid deaths every day as the Covid positive fatalities are much less than that.
He said deaths with symptoms are higher among patients outside of the capital as such deaths are more common at Dhaka slums and Geneva Camp.
Single-day deaths lowest in 17 days
The number of daily deaths from Covid-19 slightly dropped Friday as the country reported 166 casualties in the past 24 hours until Friday morning, which is the lowest in 17 days.
On 6 July, the country reported 163 deaths from the virus.
In the past 24 hours until Friday morning, the country also reported 6,364 new cases.
With the latest counts, so far 18,851 people have died from Covid-19 and 1,146,564 got infected, according to the health directorate.
Meanwhile, the government is considering allowing people under 18 to register for Covid-19 vaccine.
"The matter is under discussion," said Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS).
"We are ready to tackle the pressure of Covid-19 patients," he said while visiting Covid patients at Mugda Medical College Hospital in the capital today.
The DGHS has suggested setting up field hospitals in different districts for patients outside Dhaka.