Despite a countrywide movement curbs in place for around two months, Bangladesh continues witnessing disturbing curves of Covid-19 infection and death as the health minister himself Monday expressed concern over dealing with the health crises if people remain ignorant to the virus safety guidelines.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Monday directed the local administration to impose region-wise movement restrictions without any delay if the infections go up.
In another development, Health Minister Zahid Maleque announced resuming inoculation of the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine on 19 June — that has been suspended since the last week of April in the face of supply crunch.
The country reported 54 deaths and 3,050 cases in the past 24 hours until Monday morning. The single day death tally is the highest in the past 35 days while the caseload is 59-day high.
The positivity rate in the past 24 hours was on an uptick to reach 14.80% though the infection rate started to calm down following the nationwide movement curbs from 14 April. With the enforcement relaxed multiple times, the movement restrictions, widely called lockdown, will end 16 June if not extended further.
In the past 24 hours, Khulna and Rangpur divisions posted more than 38% and 29% positivity respectively as Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj had been reporting higher infection rates earlier.
According to the health directorate data, the positivity rate in Rajshahi division still hovers around 19.13%.
Switching from central to local measures?
At the cabinet meeting, the prime minister directed the local administration to impose movement curbs locally to reign in the rising infections.
"The local administration has been told to block the area locally if requires," Cabinet Division Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told the media after emerging from the meeting.
Asked if the nationwide movement curbs would be extended, the cabinet division secretary said, "There was no talk on that. Let us wait and see as there are still two days in hand."
Since the virus outbreak in March last year, Bangladesh has been relying on movement curbs as the weapon of choice. The country yielded substantial outcomes in the last year's 66-day stay-at-home period in controlling the virus spread.
In the face of rising infections and suspended vaccine supply, the weapon was again put to use in April this year. But the public health experts and virologists were critical of the decision as they suggested "area-wise" "easy-to-enforce" movement curbs to maximise the stay-at-home outputs and to draw a balance between the economy and health.
In May, the spread of Indian strain forced a number of bordering districts to go under lockdown locally even amid an ongoing countrywide movement curbs.
Already-registered to get the first jab from 19 June
With the vaccination to be resumed on 19 June, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said people who have already registered for the vaccine will qualify for the first dose of Pfizer and Sinopharm shots.
Bangladesh in February this year rolled out the mass vaccination campaign with the Oxford-AstraZeneca shots manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. But the vaccination hit a stumbling block as India banned vaccine export in the last week of March.
Then the country moved to China and Russia for Covid shots to keep the mass campaign running. Dhaka has already received 11 lakh Sinopharm vaccine doses from Beijing as a gift and 106,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine under the Covax facility.
Sinopharm vaccine is already being administered to medical students as the first shot.
The health directorate officials said the registered citizens will be notified about the immunisation date via text messages.
Pfizer vaccines will be administered at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Kurmitola General Hospital, Sheikh Rasel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital and National Ophthalmology Institute in the capital.
Zahid Maleque said the infection is up as people are not wearing face masks, said the minister adding, "The capacity of the hospitals is limited. There is no alternative to controlling the infection. If one lakh people get infected per day, the medical capacity will simply collapse."
Ctg reports Delta variant, suspects community transmission
After the northwest and southwest regions of the country, and the capital Dhaka, southeast Chattogram now confirms the prevalence of the coronavirus Delta variant, widely known as the Indian strain of Covid-19.
On Monday, a team of Chattogram University genetic engineering and biotechnology department researchers said they found two cases of the Delta variant, and suspect the strain has already entered the community level transmission phase in the port city.
The researchers collected 42 samples from seven testing facilities in Chattogram in the last week of May.
"Of them, two were of the Delta variant, three were of Eta (Nigerian), four were of Alpha (UK), and 33 were of the Beta (South African) variant," said team leader Prof Mohammad Al-Forkan, adding, "We suspect initial community transmission has begun."
The two patients found with the Indian strain do not have any recent travel history to India, suggested the research jointly conducted by Chattogram university and the icddr,b.
Bangladesh, on 8 May, reported the first case of the Indian variant detected in the country. In the first week of June, an Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) study found 80% of the coronavirus infections in Bangladesh were of the Delta variant.
The IEDCR study said the infection of the variant has entered the community-level transmission phase in Bangladesh. However, the study then did not include any samples from the port city.
Dr Sujat Paul, medicine department chief at the Chattogram Medical College and a member of the research team said, analysing the variants by genome sequencing was challenging and expensive as well.
He said the research findings would help doctors treat the Covid-19 patients better.
Chattogram University genetic engineering department Associate Professor Laila Khaleda said the detection of the Delta variant in Chattogram is worrying as the situation might take a deadly turn if preventive measures are not taken immediately.
The Delta variant of coronavirus, first discovered in India, is anywhere between 30% to 100% more transmissible than the previously dominant strains, according to Prof Neil Ferguson, a leading epidemiologist at Imperial College London.
Black fungus patient admitted to DMCH
A patient diagnosed with mucormycosis, widely known as black fungus, was admitted to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital recently.
Hailing from Khulna, the 45-year-old man came to the hospital with post Covid complications around a week ago. Later, he was tested positive with the rare fungal infection, said Dr Forhad Uddin Hasan Chowdhury, registrar of Dhaka Medical internal medicine department.
"We suspected the fungal infection as the patient was suffering from headache, sinusitis, and complications in the right eye," he said, adding the symptoms were similar to black fungus.
"The patient's condition is now stable, and he has been given antifungal medication. Hopefully, he will recover shortly," Dr Forhad said.
On 25 May, Bangladesh officially reported its maiden black fungus case.