The coronavirus situation in Cumilla is getting worse day by day.
The first Covid-19 patient in the district was detected on April 8, and by May 1, the number of cases rose to 80.
Between May 1 and June 1, the total increase in the number of Covid-19 patients was 940.
From June 1 to July 1, the number of cases rose by 2,542. In the next 15 days, more than a thousand new cases were added to the tally.
According to the website of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, based on total cases as of July 13, Cumilla is the fourth worst affected district in the country after Dhaka, Chattogram and Narayanganj.
Cumilla's Civil Surgeon Dr Md Neyatuzzaman claimed that all preventive steps were taken, yet community transmission just exploded in the district with 17 upazilas.
"At first, the intensity of infection was high in the upazilas but now Cumilla city is the worst affected," he said, hoping that the situation will improve in red zones as lockdown has been imposed in four ward areas.
As of yesterday, Cumilla city had 1,227 coronavirus cases out of the district's total of 4,698.
The number of Covid-19 deaths was 18 so far.
DEATH COUNT RISING
Like infections, the number of deaths from coronavirus also jumped in the district in the last three months.
While the total number of Covid-19 deaths was zero on May 1, it rose to 28 on June 1.
By July 1, it was 100 with another 24 reported as of yesterday.
From May 18 to July 13, an organisation named Bibek helped bury 53 dead bodies with coronavirus symptoms and infections in the Cumilla city area.
Yusuf Molla Tipu, initiator of Bibek, said almost every day they bury at least one such dead and the numbers are not decreasing.
Monjur Kader Moni, councillor of ward 10 of the city, said the number of infected people will actually be more than the official figure because people are reluctant to do Covid-19 tests.
So far, two people died in his area from Covid-19 whereas more than 10 died with coronavirus symptoms, he added, claiming that senior citizens are dying but no one is keeping record of that.
As of yesterday, 1,124 patients were admitted at Cumilla Medical College Hospital (CuMCH) with Covid-19 symptoms and infection.
So far, 222 of the patients died there; 36 of them were with Covid-19 and the rest 186 had coronavirus symptoms.
Dr Mojibur Rahman, director of CuMCH, said, "Some patients come to the hospital with low oxygen saturation levels. It is difficult to save such patients because fall in oxygen saturation level causes multi organ failure."
SHORTAGE OF FACILITY
Only two public hospitals in the city -- CuMCH and the District General Hospital -- provide treatment to Covid-19 patients and those with coronavirus symptoms.
In the entire district, only CuMCH has an ICU facility dedicated for Covid-19 treatment and the unit also has to serve critical coronavirus patients from five other adjacent districts as well.
None of the private medical colleges, hospitals, clinics in the district provide treatment to Covid-19 patients.
Last month, a patient with gynaecological problems even failed to get admission in several private clinics in the city.
Maizuddin Ahmed, the patient's husband, said he finally had to admit his wife at CuMCH's isolation ward from where she was transferred to the gynae ward after testing Covid-19 negative.
A number of other people have similar complaints.
This correspondent tried to contact Dr Abdul Baki Anis, a leader of Private Clinic Hospitals Owners Association, several times on his cellphone to inquire about the complaints.
However, the doctor who is also the president of Bangladesh Medical Association, Cumilla unit, could not be reached.
Dr Mojibur Rahman of CuMCH said they have 154 beds in the coronavirus isolation ward and 10 functional ICU beds out of 18.
The eight ICU beds, which were recently gifted by Finance Minister AHM Lotus Kamal and local lawmaker AKM Bahauddin, could not be used yet due to lack of trained manpower.
"We need highly trained nurses and medical technologists to run the ICU smoothly. If we can run all 18 ICU beds, it will ease the sufferings of people.
"Besides, we need high-flow nasal cannulas and portable X-ray machines for the Covid-19 unit," the physician said, adding that CuMCH has a centralised oxygen supply system.
"We are trying our best with the resources provided by the government. Already more than 50 doctors, nurses and other medical staff of CuMCH have been infected by coronavirus."
Abul Fazal Mir, deputy commissioner of Cumilla, said they are operating mobile courts to maintain health protocols in shopping malls, business centres and kitchen markets and also enforcing the rules on wearing face masks to prevent coronavirus infection.