• Thursday, Apr 09, 2020
  • Last Update : 03:05 am

Bangladesh confirms first coronavirus death

  • Published at 01:32 pm March 18th, 2020

Four more detected positive taking the total number of infections in the country to 14, government mulling area-wise lockdown, suspension of public transports

With the death of a 70-year-old man, Bangladesh has recorded its first death from Covid-19, which has spread to at least 160 countries of the world.

The patient had high level of comorbidity – cardiac problems, high-blood pressure, kidney diseases, and diabetes.

Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), revealed the matter in a press briefing held at its office in Mohakhali yesterday.

However, IEDCR did not disclose the identity of the victim.

According to IEDCR, the man died a day after he was tested positive with the virus that killed over 8,000 worldwide and infected over 200,000. 

Dr Flora, in the briefing, said four more people were detected positive with the virus in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of infections in the country to 14.

Of the total infected, three were released upon recovery while 10 others are undergoing treatment at hospitals.

Among the four newly-infected, three are male expats while another is a woman, who was infected from one of her family members who recently returned from abroad, she said.

All of them are aged between 20 and 59, she added.

The remaining 10 patients are faring well while four of them were earlier diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney diseases, and also have history of cardiac arrests.

“These four are at great risk,” Dr Flora said.

Commenting on the death of the patient, she said: “He [the deceased] contacted the virus from an expatriate who recently returned and again left abroad.”

The death of the person raised questions whether community transmission has begun, as the victim contacted the virus from a relative, and not a family member.

“There is no scientific evidence of community transmission yet. All patients contacted the virus via local transmission,” she argued.

The IEDCR official repeatedly requested the public to avoid crowd, especially shopping malls and marketplaces.

Stating that the deceased would be buried under IEDCR supervision, Dr Flora said: “We have also informed his family members about the burial process as it is different from regular funerals.”

Continuing the briefing, IEDCR director said six others with Covid-19 symptoms are also undergoing treatment in isolation at a hospital. Besides, 42 people are in institutional quarantine.

IEDCR, the lone testing facility in the country, has tested 341 people so far with coronavirus-like symptoms and of them, 49 were tested alone in the last 24 hours.

Earlier in the day, Gazipur Civil Surgeon Dr Khairuzzaman confirmed that one Italy returnee, who was quarantined in Gazipur before being sent to Dhaka for further examinations, was tested positive.

Talking about the matter, she said the person was one of the two who tested positive on Tuesday. 

When inquired about the 42 institutional quarantined in Gazipur, she said the returnees would be under forced quarantine as one of them tested positive with Covid-19.

According to WHO, some 179,111 have been infected in some 160 countries. The death toll stands at 7,426.

However, worldometre in its live update last afternoon mentioned that some 8,231 died while some 204,037 were infected globally. Some 82,866 recovered completely. Of 91,097 released cases, 9% died.

IEDCR to adopt digital contact method to ease procedure

As a number of cases are failing to reach IEDCR, the testing authority has decided to adopt digital means of communication to make the testing procedure smoother.

Dr Flora said they would launch an email address ([email protected]), a Facebook page (IEDCR, Covid-19 Control Room) and develop a mobile app – already under construction – to reach the public easily.

“People can email us, sent messages on Facebook or even use the app to reach us and find out if they need to be tested,” she said, adding: “People will have to provide information about their symptoms via the app.”

“The hotline would remain active as well for those who all are not digitally adept,” the director added.

Some 4,857 calls were made over the last 24 hours, where around 4,642 inquiries were regarding Covid-19, Dr Flora said urging people emphatically not to call the hotline for queries other than Covid-19.

Some areas to be put under lock-down, if needed

In the wake of this situation, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said if necessary, some areas would be lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.

He furthered that all public transport would gradually decrease and in need be it would suspended.

As the government is emphasizing on the importance of home quarantine, our correspondents from several districts reported that the number of people in home quarantine and home isolation are increasing outside the capital.

Meanwhile, our Dinajpur correspondent informed that four people in three different places were kept under home isolation over suspicion of being infected. 

On the other hand, our Narail correspondent informed that returnees are breaching home quarantine guideline enormously. Besides, madrasas in the districts were also continuing their academic activities despite government order to shut down all educational institutions under the Education Ministry.

Home tutoring were also continuing in the district.

Stressing the need for public awareness, Narail health official said they sought have help from local administration to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the health authorities in Chittagong and Sylhet confessed that there is a fear of coronavirus spread in the regions.

Our Tangail and Kushtia correspondents informed that that a Singapore returnee was fined Tk10,00 while another was fined Tk5,000 in Kushtia for breaching home quarantine guideline.

Meanwhile, a Brunei returnee in Naogaon was find Tk1,000 and another in Brahmanbaria was fined Tk5,000 for violating the government directive.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal reiterated that legal action would be taken against those breaking home quarantine rules.

Our district correspondents in Gopalganj, Dinajpur, Barguna, Chittagong, Gazipur, Jhenaidah, Meherpur, Narail, Narsingdi, Patuakhali,  Pirojpur, Sirajganj, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Tangail, Comilla, Naogaon, Nilfamari, Moulvibazar, Satkhira and Brahmanbaria contributed to the report