The ongoing Covid wave has proven to be the deadliest in Bangladesh’s pandemic history as the number of deaths and cases continue to surge with no end to the crisis in sight.
Confirmed cases in the country have already surpassed the grim one million mark. The tally, as of Thursday, stood at 1,071,774.
Fatalities from the virus have reached 17,278. An additional 226 people died on Thursday.
Between July 1 and July 15, Bangladesh reported 2,775 Covid deaths, and 153,926 cases – breaking all previous records in terms of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
The country recorded 230 fatalities on July 11 and confirmed 13,786 cases the very next day – the highest single-day figures since the pandemic broke out in March last year.
In March, Bangladesh recorded 638 deaths, which jumed to 2,404 in April. It again came down to 1,169 in May but rose to 1,884 in June before seeing an astronomical surge in July.
If one assesses the Covid data from the previous months this year, one will be able to see a clear upward trend of the infectious disease with the pandemic situation deteriorating further this month.
In the first seven days of July, the country logged 1,090 deaths, which jumped by 34% with 1,459 deaths recorded in the past seven days.
Bangladesh reported 8,301 Covid cases on July 1 while 12,236 tested positive for Covid on Thursday.
The number of daily cases was over the 10,000 mark for eight days during the first two weeks of July.
At this rate, more people could die from the infectious disease in July than in any other month of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the government has relaxed restrictions to allow pre-Eid business and trade, ease homebound journeys and purchase of sacrificial cattle despite reservations from health experts.
The National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) have warned that virus transmission will rise significantly if health safety rules are not properly maintained.
On July 10, DGHS spokesperson Dr Robed Amin said that available hospital beds in the country could run out in a week if the skyrocketing Covid-19 infection rate was not brought under control.
Weekly Covid trend
Worldometer, in its weekly trend, as of Wednesday, ranked Bangladesh 12th in the list of countries logging fresh coronavirus cases and 5th in list for deaths.
Meanwhile, among Bangladesh's South Asian neighbours, so far 411,928 people have died in India, 22,642 in Pakistan, 9,430 in Nepal, 5,983 in Afghanistan, 3,611 in Sri Lanka and 214 in the Maldives.
Bhutan, however, only had one person die from the deadly virus.
Bangladesh holds second position in South Asia considering the total number of people infected by Covid-19.
India tops the chart with a caseload of 30.98 million, while around 1.05 million people have tested positive in Bangladesh, as per data collected from worldometer at 11pm on Wednesday.
'Wearing mask is more effective than lockdown'
The second Covid wave has wreaked havoc in Bangladesh and India as most of the population here did not comply with health safety rules, especially wearing face masks, observed Prof Nazrul Islam, member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19.
"Lockdown is not going to reduce the infection rate because people are not wearing masks. When the pandemic situation showed signs of improvement, we allowed shopping malls, markets, public and private offices, and court activities to resume.
"But people were quite reluctant to wear masks," the eminent virologist told Dhaka Tribune.
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"If we look at the countries that have successfully dealt with the second wave of Covid, like the US, we will see that people strictly abided by health rules and wore face masks," Prof Nazrul Islam added.
He said that by wearing masks and maintaining health guidelines, it is indeed possible to prevent a further rise of Covid while keeping the economic situation active, but on a limited scale.
Mushtaq Hussain, adviser to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and former chief scientific officer of the institute, echoed Prof Nazrul Islam.
He said that earlier coronavirus cases were higher in the country's urban areas.
"But now infections are spreading thick and fast in the rural areas also. Thus, it is becoming very challenging to control infections with lockdowns."
Though people are not being allowed outside, those who have gone to their village homes during the holidays are taking part in various festivals and social gatherings, defying the restrictions on movement currently in place.
This is propelling the increase of Covid cases and casualties in the villages, said Mushtaq, adding that the government needed to take special measures to ensure a wearing of masks in the rural areas.