Number of cases likely to shoot up in mid-June
While some hard-hit countries are slowly getting back to normalcy amid the Covid-19 pandemic and anticipating a second wave, it is still unclear if Bangladesh is in its peak or heading towards the peak.
Bangladesh confirmed the first three Covid-19 cases on March 8 and now the cases have reached over 60,000. The number of cases looked relatively modest till mid-May, but the upward trend in Bangladesh, likewise neighbouring India and Pakistan, suggested it is yet to reach the peak.
On May 14, Bangladesh recorded 18,863 cases with 283 deaths. The number shot up to 28,511 with 408 fatalities on May 21. A week after on May 28, the number of detections jumped to 40,321 with 559 deaths. On June 5, the number rose to 60,391 with 811 deaths.
As per Worldometer, a reference website that provides real-time statistics for Covid-19 situation, Bangladesh is currently in the 20th position in the list of countries with most cases. India stands sixth and Pakistan 17th on the list.
Prof Dr Nazrul Islam, a virologist at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), expressed his annoyance over the government’s role for not monitoring public movement right before the Eid-ul-Fitr.
"I think the number of cases will shoot up in mid-June since so many people headed for home across the country flouting the health guidelines. If some of them are infected, they will spread the virus countrywide," he told Dhaka Tribune.
So far, most Covid-19 cases have been detected in urban areas.
However, on May 31, a 71-year-old Rohingya man died of coronavirus infection in the world's largest refugee camp in Ukhiya's Kutupalong of Cox's Bazar.
Health experts fear if a Covid-19 outbreak at the congested Rohingya refugee camps is not checked, it could turn into a health catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the health authorities did ramp up testing capacity compared to the number of tests done in April.
A health official uses a nasal swab to collect sample from a man for Covid-19 testing at Central Police Hospital in Rajarbagh, Dhaka on May 21, 2020 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune
The number is still significantly low in terms of population size and density as those are much higher in Bangladesh compared to many other countries around the world.
It is difficult to get the real picture of Covid-19 situation in Bangladesh without rapid testing since community transmission is happening.
Although daily cases remain below 3,000 in the past few days, the ratio of positive cases to the number of tests conducted per day does not really show any sign of flattening the curve soon.
One in every five suspected patients, who underwent a test, was found positive for the infection in the country on average in June.
According to Worldometer, Bangladesh is currently testing 2,338 samples for every one million people per day, and as of Saturday the country detected 63,026 cases. Pakistan is doing 2,995 tests per million and 93,983 people tested positive so far in the country. India tests 3,281 samples for each million population and 237,395 cases have been recorded so far.
Collective effort to prevent health catastrophe
Public health experts said a collective effort could prevent Bangladesh from facing a health catastrophe.
They are suggesting citizens to follow universal health guidelines like frequent hand sanitizing and washing, wearing masks in public places, avoiding crowds and maintaining social distancing and respiratory hygiene if they want to protect themselves.
Workplaces should frequently be cleaned along with frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, railings, switches, toilet handles, and elevators.
Besides, there should be enough supply for hand soaps and hand sanitization products.