Delta on the rampage
About 44 percent of the Covid deaths and around 40 percent of the infections so far were recorded in less than three months after the detection of the Delta variant in the country on May 8, shows the health directorate data.
Experts say a lack of effective measures to check the transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant has led to record-breaking surges in both deaths and cases.
"There is no doubt that the Delta variant has been dominating the current transmission. The variant, however, would not have caused so much damage if effective measures were taken giving priority to public health approach," Dr Mushtuq Hussain, consultant at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told this newspaper yesterday.
With 246 deaths from the virus yesterday, 9,038 Covid patients died since May 8 this year. In the same period, 509,675, cases, including 15,989 yesterday, were recorded.
On May 8, the IEDCR confirmed the detection of the Delta variant or the Indian variant for the first time in the country. A couple of days later, the World Health Organisation labelled it a "variant of concern".
Nearly a month later, the IEDCR officials said they found evidence of community transmission of the variant.
Since then, the variant, first detected in India in October last year, has continued to spread all over the country, causing spikes in both deaths and infections.
On June 4, the IEDCR said 80 percent of all genomic-sequenced samples collected after mid-May were of Delta variant.
Till the end of May, the Indian variant was more prevalent in eight bordering districts -- Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Natore, Kushtia, Jashore, Khulna and Satkhira.
These districts had seen Covid positivity rate of over 30 percent on average in the entire fourth week of that month.
To curb the transmission of the variant in those districts and prevent its spread to other parts of the country, the Epidemiology and Public Health Committee of the health directorate on May 29 recommended immediate imposition of "strict lockdown" in those districts.
The government, however, delayed deciding on it, and the positivity rate rose to 45 percent on average in the eight districts by the end of June.
Not only that, the overall Covid positivity rate across the country rose to around 25 percent on June 30 from 9 percent on May 30.
Having no other options, the government then imposed countrywide lockdown from July 1. It, however, relaxed the restrictions for eight days from July 15 for the Eid-ul-Azha.
Yesterday, 29 districts saw Covid positivity rate above 40 percent, while it was between 30 percent and 39 percent in 24 districts, shows data of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
On July 7, daily Covid deaths crossed the 200-mark for the first time. Since then, the country has been logging 213 deaths a day on average.
With the number of Covid patients rising every day, hospitals all over the country have been stretched to their limits.
Yesterday, the occupancy rate of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds at Covid-dedicated hospitals was 87 percent while that of High Dependency Unit beds was 89 percent across the country.
Experts fear that both deaths and infections may keep rising because of a lack of effective measures to curb the virus transmission.
"The Covid situation worsened further in the past one month. We fear the daily death toll may cross the 300-mark soon," said Dr Arifa Akram, assistant professor of virology at the National Institute of Laboratory Medicine and Referral Centre (NILMRC).
"In the last one month, almost all the Covid samples sequenced at different laboratories were found to be of Delta variant," Arifa told this newspaper yesterday.
"If we are to break the transmission chain, we have to either strictly maintain the health safety guidelines or vaccinate a good number of people. Otherwise, virus infections will continue to rise."
She also said the latest rush of garment workers to the capital due to reopening of factories amid lockdown will lead to further rise in virus infections.