‘Without proper containment measures, infections cannot be kept in check in our country’
Bangladesh is currently experiencing the worst period of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, scientists and public health experts of the country have said.
The second wave reached its peak in the first week of April but the situation might change for the better by mid-May, provided that the strict lockdown was properly implemented, they predicted.
Scientific analyses as well as last year’s pandemic experience have been taken into account in making the projections.
Bangladesh saw a surge in coronavirus infections between mid-June and mid-July last year, recording 3,000-4,000 thousand patients every day. Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 deaths was 1,197 in June and 1,264 in July.
Dr Mohammad Mushtuq Husain, adviser at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, said: “By measuring the course of the current spike in Covid-19 cases, it could be said that the pandemic has now reached its peak.”
“Cases have been increasing rapidly for the last couple of weeks, but the numbers will likely start to fall from May,” he added.
The World Health Organization considers a pandemic to be under control if the infection rate remains below 5% for two consecutive weeks.
The infection rate in Bangladesh was lower than 5% for seven weeks from mid-January. On the other hand, 287 people died of Covid-19 in February — the lowest monthly death toll after May 2020.
In the 55th week of the pandemic in the country, around 13% of people who had opted for a Covid-19 test were found to be infected. Then for one week until Friday, over 23% of the tested samples had turned out to be Covid-19 positive.
“The number of tests conducted every day has been a little lower for the last few days, but the infection rate is still high,” said Dr Mushtuq Husain.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) had formulated a core committee on Covid-19 management comprising eight public health experts and scientists last year, which recently submitted a projection report on the resurgence of Covid-19.
Using a mathematical model called susceptible–infectious–recovered or SIR, the committee found that if 35,000 samples were tested now, the number of daily cases and deaths would be around 10,000 and 100, respectively.
The surge in infections will continue till mid-May or another week if the measures to contain the spread of coronavirus are enforced strictly. Otherwise, the number of cases will continue to mount, the projection report of the committee forewarns.
“We have predicted the situation through following a mathematical model, so there are some uncertainties. However, it is undeniable that without proper containment measures, infections cannot be kept in check in our country,” said Prof Shah Monir Hossain, member of the DGHS Covid-19 management committee.
People should follow the government’s instructions and stay home during the lockdown period, Prof Monir, former director general of the DGHS, told Dhaka Tribune.
“We have recommended continuing the lockdown until the first week of May,” he added.
Prof Tarek Mahmud Hussain, another eminent public health expert, said the country would likely see a fall in Covid-19 infections from next week as the government had been enforcing a hard lockdown.