Bangladesh on Friday reported 108 deaths in past 24 hours, the second highest single-day toll since the pandemic’s outbreak, with officials saying they awaited a government approval to a proposal to enforce a nationwide shutdown for 14 days.
“The pandemic claimed 108 lives in the past 24 hours when 5,869 new infection cases have been recorded,” Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said in its routine daily statement.
The official tally showed the virus killed 13,976 people and infected 878,804 so far.
The country recorded the highest 112 deaths on April 19 this year when the daily toll continued to exceed 100 for several days.
The DGHS said among the total 13,976 fatalities, 7,472 deaths occurred in Dhaka division, 2,650 in Chattogram, 952 in Rajshahi, 1,114 in Khulna, 413 in Barishal, 514 in Sylhet, 565 in Rangpur and 296 in Mymensingh division.
It said 21.22 percent of the 27,653 samples collected in 24 hours were tested positive while the infection rate was only 2.30 percent just on February 8 this year as during the late winter season, the rate started decreasing sharply.
The health authorities report came hours after the public administration ministry said they awaited a government decision to enforce a two-week long nationwide shutdown in line with National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19.
“We are ready to enforce the shutdown anytime . . . it (enforcement) will be tougher than that of the last year,” State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told newsmen.
NTAC said they recommended a “strict countrywide lockdown” when no offices other than emergency services, would operate as their pool of experts were convinced that the worsening situation could not be controlled without a nationwide shutdown.
Bangladesh is experiencing an increase in the Covid-19 infection rate, with the latest report of the World Health Organization (WHO) noting that out of the country’s 64 administrative districts 43 were at “very high risk” while 15 others, including Dhaka, were at “high risk”.
Health officials said the deadly “delta variant” of coronovirus now appeared to have expanded its claws on Dhaka, mounting pressures on health facilities in the capital while it continued to scratch north and southwestern regions bordering India.
Authorities last week ordered a lockdown in seven central districts surrounding Dhaka in an effort to isolate the capital from rest of the country to prevent community transmission in view of rising infection cases in bordering regions.
But experts said the virus variant made its ways to the capital through community transmission, while doctors said the number of COVID-19 patients was increasing every day at hospitals.
The country’s biggest state-run health facility, Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), said 80 percent of their COVID-19 patients were residents of the capital city while their number was increasing every day.
“The number of COVID-19 patient is increasing everyday at DMCH and 80 percent of them are residents of Dhaka city . . . this means infection rate is increasing in the capital,” DMCH Director Brigadier General Md Nazmul Haque told the state-run BSS news agency.
Haque said the current number of COVID-19 patients in DMCH was nearly four times higher than that of last month and feared if this trend continued “all general and ICU beds here will be fulfilled within 10 to 12 days”.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital reported a nearly identical picture with its additional director Nazmul Karim Manik saying, “pressure (of coronavirus patients) is mounting gradually and most of them are Dhaka city dwellers”.
Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Director Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin endorsed the comments but said districts bordering India were more exposed to Delta variant compared to Dhaka.
“However, this Delta variant is largely responsible for recent spike of coronavirus . . . we must stop rampant people’s movement in border districts to contain the community transmission,” Shirin said.
The DGHS officials said the situation in districts with borders with India particularly in southwestern Khulna region continued to worsen.