If the current containment strategy fails, the country will enter stage-4 of the coronavirus outbreak and then the strategy will be to mitigate the impact, health officials said.
"We are now at stage-3. We have to strictly maintain social distancing right now. Otherwise, the virus will spread widely…," Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told The Daily Star yesterday.
The country is moving towards stage-4, health officials said.
Prof Meerjady said community transmission is still limited in scale and in some clusters, but if people don't maintain social distance the situation will be difficult. However, the government has prepared healthcare infrastructure to handle the evolving situation.
According to the World Health Organisation, stage-3 is when the source of infection is not known for the majority of cases and new positive cases can no longer be traced to previously diagnosed cases. This means that the scale of the outbreak has increased.
Stage-4 means the spread is practically uncontrollable and there are many major clusters of infection all over the country.
Just a month after the first case of Covid-19 was identified in the country, the authorities have confirmed a total of 218 patients and 20 deaths.
"We are heading towards stage-4. Lockdown of a particular area is one of the strategies to contain the spread. But at the same time, all suspected cases in that area should be tested," said Jahidur Rahman, virologist and assistant professor at Shahid Suhrawardy Medical College.
"We cannot keep an area under lockdown for a long time because of its economic impact. We have to test the suspected cases, isolate the positive ones and quarantine the rest.
"If we fail to act wisely right now, the situation will not be good ... ," he warned.
At least 10,000 tests should be performed each day, he said.
IEDCR started coronavirus testing on January 28, when the virus was wreaking havoc in China. For over a month, only IEDCR had the ability to run the tests.
The testing facilities have been expanded over the past couple of weeks to 14 laboratories -- nine in Dhaka and five elsewhere.