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Covid-19: Are we really this lucky?

  • Published at 11:58 pm March 30th, 2020
coronavirus image-the virus
A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication, together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to Covid-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020 Reuters

Bangladesh has tested  153 samples in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of tests by the IEDCR to 1,338

The number of Covid-19 patients continues to mount across the world, but Bangladesh has so far confirmed only 49 cases of the viral infection. Among the 49 cases, there have been five deaths and 19 recoveries. 

Although many are relieved the number of Covid-19 patients is not skyrocketing in the country, as it is in Italy, Spain, Iran or the US, questions have been raised over whether there is enough testing in Bangladesh to give an accurate picture of the situation.

South Korea is an example of a country which has managed to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. It used mass testing to identify potential hotspots for the spread of the virus and intervened accordingly to curb the number of infections and deaths. 

According to international media reports, South Korea had the highest number of newly confirmed cases on February 29 with 813. However, on March 29, the country reported only 105 new cases. As of March 20, South Korea had tested 316,664 samples in its efforts to locate and isolate the virus.

On the other hand, Italy, the country worst affected by the outbreak, had conducted 206,886 tests as of March 20.

Italy has recorded 92,472 confirmed cases and 10,023 deaths as of Monday, while South Korea has recorded 9,583 cases and 152 deaths, so far.

Bangladesh has tested  153 samples in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of tests by the IEDCR to 1,338. This is about 52 tests a day since regular testing began on March 8, after the first three cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the country.

A rate of just 52 tests a day is alarmingly low considering the total population of over 161,000,000.

The number of people currently in quarantine in the country does not match with the number of tests that have been conducted so far. A total of 1,338 tests have been conducted while 53,442 people are in quarantine. 

Currently, Bangladesh has over 43 thousands testing kits in stock. Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said another 85,000 kits will arrive shortly. 

As the World Health Organization has put it: “Most people infected with the Covid-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.” 

The problem is that people with mild symptoms are contagious as well, and may unwittingly spread the infection if they are not tested. 

 On Monday, a 40-year-old man in Dinajpur died reportedly after showing symptoms of coronavirus infection. The man worked at a house in Comilla that is owned by an expatriate who lived in Saudi Arabia. 

The expatriate returned to his house recently and the district administration put all the residents of the house in home quarantine. The man somehow fled the house and returned to his home in Comilla. 

People have so far made over 952,000 phone calls to three government-run Covid-19 emergency help lines. Against that huge number of calls, over the last two months the health authorities in Bangladesh could manage tests for only 1,185 people for Covid-19 up until Sunday– making the ratio a paltry 0.148% of the calls received.

According to WHO, a total of 634,835 cases have been confirmed Covid-19 positive and 29,891 died of the disease as of March 29.

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