COVID-19 cases, deaths see records as restrictions largely ignored in Bangladesh

COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to soar in Bangladesh amid a public reluctance to follow the anti-coronavirus restrictions, with lackadaisical government measures to implement the health rules.

The country on Tuesday made fresh records of the highest daily coronavirus cases and deaths — counting 7,213 cases and 66 deaths in the 24-hour period till 8:00am on the day, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

Health minister Zahid Maleque said that the way the numbers of cases and deaths were surging it would not be possible to accommodate all the patients even if the entire city was turned into a hospital.

‘We are behaving in a way as if the coronavirus won’t infect us,’ he said.

‘The numbers of cases and deaths have increased by 10­–12 per cent in recent days compared to the earlier few days. If such high numbers of cases and deaths continue, we can’t accommodate the patients if we transform the entire city into a hospital,’ the minister said while inspecting the preparations at the Dhaka North City Corporation COVID-19 hospital beside the Mohakhali market.

He disclosed that the DNCC hospital would open soon with 200 ICU and 1,200 general beds for COVID-19 patients.

The minister urged people to follow the health guidelines and stay at home during the restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, adding that the coronavirus cases and deaths cannot be arrested if the health practices are ignored.

Bangladesh passed the second day of the countrywide anti-COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, but people hardly stayed inside.

Private cars, microbuses, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws plied in larger numbers across the city on the day than the previous day.

There were traffic congestions seen at Rampura, Malibagh and Kakrail crossings in the morning. Office-goers suffered the most due to the closure of public transports.

Shopping malls remained closed, but street-side shops remained open in bazars and residential neighbourhoods.

Kitchen markets continued to operate while restaurants offered takeaway services.

Amid a gross violation of the restrictions, road transport minister Obaidul Quader on Tuesday afternoon announced that the government had decided to allow public transport services in Dhaka and other city corporation areas from Wednesday.

Traders without wearing facemasks and defying physical distancing sell masks in makeshift shops under the Babubazar Bridge in Dhaka on Tuesday. — New Age photo

City bus services will be available from 6:00am to 6:00pm, the minister said in an online press conference, adding that no transports will be allowed to enter or leave the cities.

According to the DGHS update on the day, 66 people died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours raising the death toll from the disease to 9,384.

It was the highest number of daily deaths after the coronavirus was detected in the country on March 8 last year.

The previous highest number of daily deaths was recorded at 64 on June 30 last year.

Besides, the country recorded 7,213 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, making it the highest number of daily cases in the country.

With the new case detection, the country has so far tallied 6,51,652 COVID-19 cases.

The country recorded more than 7,000 daily cases in the past three days in a row and over 50 deaths in the past seven straight days.

The health agency in its Tuesday’s daily update said that 34,311 samples were tested across the country in the past 24 hours and 21.02 per cent of them were found COVID-19 positive.

For four days, the country has been recording over 23 per cent positivity rate.

Exactly one year after the coronavirus outbreak in the country, it witnessed a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths after a gradual improvement since September last year.

In last January and February, the weekly positivity rate dropped to 2.5 per cent while the weekly cases ranged between 2,400 and 6,000 and the weekly deaths between 50 and 160.

While the positivity rate has been hovering around 23 per cent for days the daily cases and deaths are breaking records with the passage of each day.

Bangladesh has continued mass vaccination against COVID-19 since February 7.

So far, 55.55 lakh people have taken the first dose of the vaccine and the second dose administration is scheduled to begin from April 8.

The first-dose inoculation would continue, said Expanded Programme of Immunisation director Shamsul Haque. 

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