Experts urge caution as country not yet out of danger
The Covid-19 test positivity rate in Bangladesh has dipped below 20% for the ninth consecutive day with 18.23% of samples testing coronavirus positive yesterday.
The overall infection rate in the country currently stands at 20.25%
On Friday, the test positivity rate stood at 16.09% - the lowest since May 20.
However, public health experts urge caution and say the fall in the infection rate is nothing to be relieved about.
In the 24 hours till yesterday morning, 2,131 new coronavirus cases were recorded, taking the overall tally in the country to 308,925.
Furthermore, 32 more people succumbed to Covid-19 infections across the country, pushing the body count to 4,206.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) revealed the latest figures on the pandemic in a press release yesterday afternoon.
Contacted, noted virologist Nazrul Islam said the downward trend in the test positivity rate over the past few days does not necessarily suggest that the coronavirus situation is improving in the country.
“We still have to wait for at least a week to monitor where the curve goes,” he said, adding that it is not the right time to say whether the threat from Covid-19 is over.
Prof Md Ruhul Furkan Siddique of Jahangirnagar University’s public health department echoed a similar sentiment, saying: “Considering the nature of the virus, I don’t think the downward trend is something positive for us. It is impossible to predict when the infection rate will truly go down.”
The tests conducted across the country do not reflect the actual number of cases as many people are not getting themselves tested, he added.
On the issue of the daily body count hovering around 45 for the past one week, Dr Nazrul, former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said: “Basically, people who have been hospitalized and are in the 60 plus age group are dying in greater numbers.”
On August 3, Bangladesh recorded its highest daily infection rate with 31.91% of the tests coming back positive.
Test positivity percentage
Prof Muzaherul Huq, former adviser on the Southeast Asia region for the World Health Organization, said the downward trend of the infection rate is temporary since the number of tests is not as high as it should be.
“What we see through the infection rate is not the real picture. The government must set a target of tests every day until the situation comes under control,” he said.
The public health expert also stressed the need for massive public engagement to help weaken the spread of coronavirus.
“The government can’t do it all alone. It must take a hard line on those who are violating basic health rules and worsening the situation,” he said.
The daily infection rate crossed the 20% mark for the first time on May 25, with the first three coronavirus patients confirmed in the country on March 8.
Deaths by age group
Deaths by gender
The DGHS said 11,438 samples were collected from suspected Covid-19 patients in the 24 hours till yesterday morning.
As many as 11,689 samples, including backlogs, were tested at 92 authorized labs -- government and private -- across the country, and 2,131 new patients were confirmed.
The latest figures show an infection rate of 18.23%.
To date, 1,525,815 tests have been conducted in the country, leading to an overall infection rate of 20.25% so far.
Of the 32 most recent covid deaths, including 26 men, 11 were from Dhaka division, nine from Chittagong, five from Barisal, three each from Sylhet and Rangpur, and one from Khulna division.
So far, 3,300 men (78.46%) and 906 women (21.54%) have died from Covid-19 across the country.
The mortality rate against the total number of cases detected so far stands at 1.36%.
As per government data, individuals who are above 60 years old are the most vulnerable to Covid-19, with 49.21% from the age group having died till Friday.
Of the deceased, 27.58% were aged 51 to 60, 13.39% were in their 40s, 6.11% were in their 30s, 2.40% were between 21 and 30, 0.86% were between the ages of 11 and 20, and 0.46% were under 10.
Health authorities said 2,027 people have recovered from the disease over the preceding 24 hours.