Virus Transmission: At least 50 dists now at high risk
The Covid situation is now going from bad to worse even beyond the bordering districts, raising the spectre of widespread virus transmission all over the country.
With both infections and deaths seeing a surge over the past two weeks, the number of high-risk districts rose to 50 yesterday from 36 on June 3, according to the health directorate data.
A district is considered a high-risk zone if the infection rate there is 10 percent and above, according to the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.
Of the high-risk districts, the situation in those in Khulna and Rajshahi divisions is alarming in terms of deaths and cases.
Yesterday, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) reported 60 deaths -- the highest since May 4 -- and 3,956 new cases -- the highest since April 22.
Alarmingly, the countrywide positivity rate jumped to 16.62 percent yesterday from 10 percent two weeks ago. The positivity rate was 14.27 percent the previous day.
Amid the rise in virus transmission, the government yesterday extended the nationwide restrictions on public and vehicular movement for a month, but allowed all government and private offices to stay open maintaining the health safety guidelines.
Experts say the government measures to tackle the Covid crisis are inadequate and a lack of coordination among its agencies and public representatives could deepen the crisis.
To curb the virus transmission, they suggested "cluster-wise implementation of restrictions". Otherwise, the rest of the country might face a situation similar to that in Khulna and Rajshahi.
"I fear the virus transmission in Dhaka city might turn as bad as in Khulna or Rajshahi within next three to four days," Dr Abu Jamil Faisel, member of the Epidemiology and Public Health Committee of the DGHS, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said there seems to be a lack of coordination among the government agencies and public representatives in making people aware of the situation, raising Covid tests and isolating the infected people.
The government assigned a secretary to coordinate the activities to tackle the Covid situation in each district. Besides, the public health committee recommended engaging lawmakers to mobilise people to help curb the virus transmission.
"But it seems everyone is asleep," said Faisel.
In 24 hours till 8:00am yesterday, the highest number of deaths -- 17 -- was recorded in Rajshahi division followed by Khulna -- 14.
Among other divisions, Dhaka and Chattogram saw eight deaths each, Sylhet six, Rangpur four and Mymensingh three.
"The delta [Indian] variant of Covid has already spread widely at the community level. It is no longer concentrated in the bordering districts. The delta variant is more transmissible than any other variants," said Prof Ridwanur Rahman, an infectious disease specialist.
"The current situation is only the tip of the iceberg as Covid testing remains grossly inadequate… the situation in different parts of the country might turn as worse as that of Khulna and Rajshahi divisions in the next two weeks."
Noting that there is no alternative to increasing the number of tests, he recommended enforcing lockdown in the areas where the Covid positivity rate is 15 percent and above.
Though restrictions are in force in Dinajpur, Satkhira, Khulna and Chuadanga, virus transmission has been on the rise in the four districts.
Officials said they have been struggling to enforce the curbs as people are not adhering to the health safety guidelines.
"We are trying to make people understand the necessity to follow the health safety guidelines. But no one seems to care about the virus transmission. Lax enforcement of restrictions will not help bring down infections in the district," said Dr Abdul Kuddus, civil surgeon in Dinajpur.
In Satkhira, the infection rate is going up though restrictions on vehicular and public movement have been enforced in the district.
The infection rate rose to 53.19 percent yesterday from 49 percent the previous day.
Shafayat Hossain, civil surgeon of Satkhira, said people are not paying any attention to the rising trend of virus transmission.
"They care little about the health safety guidelines," he said.
In Khulna, health officials said the entire division has turned into a Covid hotspot as both deaths and infections were high.
The infection rate in the division was 40.42 percent yesterday.
Suhash Ranjan Halder, focal person at Khulna Medical College Hospital, said, "As more and more patients are seeking treatment, the hospitals in all the 10 districts in the division are overwhelmed. It is quite impossible to provide proper treatment to everyone."
Rashed Sultana, director of the DGHS in Khulna division, said people need to be made aware of the situation as only their awareness can help tackle the situation.