Dhaka, Chittagong see higher test positivity rate in July than previous months
The strict lockdown over the past few weeks has brought down the Covid-19 infection rate in the hotspot border divisions of Khulna, Rajshahi, and Rangpur, although it remains above 20%.
Alarmingly, the Covid-19 situation in Dhaka and Chittagong worsened over the same period. Experts fear that relaxing the health safety restrictions at this time may undo the effect of the previous lockdown by transmitting infections from these two major cities.
In the first 15 days of July, the Covid-19 infection rate in Khulna dropped from 37.63% to 29.84%, in Rajshahi from 24.07% to 20.77%, and in Rangpur from 40.78% to 26.03%.
On the other hand, the infection rate in Chittagong division rose from 24.42% to 34.04%, and in Dhaka it went from 22.85% to 24.83%.
Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Advisor Mushtaq Hussain told Dhaka Tribune that lockdown measures start showing their effects in two weeks. He hoped that the infection rate might go down next week.
“However, people are going to move around during the Eid holidays and there is a possibility that the infection rate will jump up again after Eid,” he said.
Mushtaq Hussain also said that people are still crowding into mosques in villages and towns despite the restrictions, and this has contributed to the recent spike.
“Kumbh Mela pilgrims turned into super spreaders in India. Bangladesh should take lessons from that,” he said.
On July 15, Dhaka logged 5,234 new Covid-19 cases, the highest among the divisions, followed by Chittagong with 2,047 cases, Khulna with 1,639, and Rajshahi with 1,269.
Dhaka division reported 74 deaths the same day, the highest among the eight divisions, followed by Khulna with 52 deaths. Chittagong division counted 42 deaths while Rajshahi 24, Rangpur 13, Mymensingh 10, Barisal six, and Sylhet five.
Most tests continue to be conducted in Dhaka, but the government has significantly increased testing in Khulna in the first 15 days of July.
On July 1, a total of 14,774 tests were conducted in Dhaka, 5,313 tests conducted in Rajshahi, and 3,308 tests conducted in Khulna.
On July 15, a total of 5,492 tests were conducted in Khulna and 6,108 tests in Rajshahi.
Shocking to relax guidelines
On Wednesday, members of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 said the restrictions should have been made tougher at this time and it was shocking that they were being relaxed. People do not follow health guidelines and the relaxation would just increase the risk of more infections.
NTAC chief Prof Dr Md Shahidullah said: “If the lockdown had been extended by another week, we could have seen a downward trend in the number of cases and deaths.
“We had advised keeping the strict lockdown in place for two more weeks. But now as it has been relaxed, everyone is going to come out of their house and flout health guidelines, resulting in more infections.”
Also on Wednesday, the DGHS in a bulletin urged the people to continue following the health guidelines and avoid going outdoors unnecessarily despite the relaxed restrictions.