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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh among slowest to reach 500,000 Covid-19 cases

The country reached the milestone after 288 days, which is much slower than India, the US, and Brazil

Update : 20 Dec 2020, 03:23 PM

Bangladesh on Sunday crossed 500,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 1,153 people testing positive for the novel coronavirus in the country in the 24 hours till Sunday morning.

The country reached the grim milestone after 288 days, which is slower than in many countries. Neighbouring India and the worst-affected US both reached 500,000 cases in much quicker time.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the US, Brazil, Russia and India are the quickest nations to reach 500,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, crossing the milestone in 85, 98, 133 and 150 days, respectively.

Spain, the UK, France, Turkey and Italy also reached 500,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases in quicker time than Bangladesh.

A breakdown of the 500,000 confirmed cases in Bangladesh into increments of 100,000 cases suggests that the country is making progress in the fight against Covid-19.

Bangladesh needed 103 days to reach 100,000 cases, but the 200,000 cases mark was reached just 30 days later (133 days into the pandemic). However, the country has steadily taken longer to reach each subsequent 100,000 case increment.

Bangladesh took 39 days to reach 300,000 cases from 200,000, before reaching 400,000 cases from 300,000 cases in 61 days. The country needed a slightly quicker 55 days to reach 500,000 cases from 400,000.

On the other hand, India and the US showed little change in the time taken to reach each increment of 100,000 cases.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh stands at 500,713 as of Sunday morning. The death toll stands at 7,280 with 38 fresh deaths.

NTAC concerned    

Noted virologist Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) for Covid-19, has expressed concern over the poor state of Bangladesh’s healthcare system, which has been exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am extremely disappointed with the condition of our health system. We came to understand how shaky it is after the coronavirus hit, but the most of the problems have still not been addressed even though the prime minister has sanctioned a huge sum of money,” he said.

Also Read- Moderna Covid-19 vaccine begins rollout as US races to broaden injection campaign

“Two sectors that are critically important for building the nation and keeping it safe are education and healthcare. Why has the system not been rearranged even though we have all the necessary support?” he added.

“Corruption has become a part of our national character, and that is why we are failing when we want to ensure services for everyone,” the virologist further said.

Regarding the trend of infections in the country leading to 500,000 cases, he said: “Initially, we were unprepared to fight the deadly virus. Later, testing capacity was increased but we could not reach the target of 20,000 tests a day.

“After analysing everything, we can say that we are performing at a medium level while having good funding. The death rate is still unsatisfactory,” he added.

He also pointed out that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had instructed to establish Intensive Care Units (ICUs) for Covid-19 patients at the district level some time ago. “As this instruction has still not been implemented, it suggests that the health authorities do not care about the premier’s instructions.”

Dr Nazrul further said: “We [NTAC] recommended that a central oxygen supply be arranged for patients at the upazila level, but this also did not see any light. I feel miserable saying all this.”

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