Health Desk – 24 Mar,2021: The health directorate yesterday reported the highest number of new Covid-19 cases in nearly nine months.
A total of 3,554 cases were detected against 25,954 tests in 24 hours ending at 8:00am yesterday. This is the highest since July 2 last year, when 4,019 new cases were detected in the country in a single day.
It also marks a nearly sevenfold increase in three weeks from the 515 cases recorded on March 2.
Yesterday’s positivity rate of 13.69 percent is more than four times that of the 3.36 percent recorded on March 2.
In the same 24 hours, 18 patients died due to the viral infection, raising the total death toll to 8,738. Besides, the total number of confirmed cases rose to 5,77,241.
Amid this steeply rising trend in transmission, experts feared the situation may turn worse in the coming days unless it is ensured that everyone wears masks, washes hands and maintains physical distancing.
“Already, the hospitals are over-burdened due to the rising number of patients. There is a high chance the pressure will increase in the coming days because we are not maintaining health safety guidelines,” told by Prof Ridwanur Rahman, an infectious disease specialist.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), only 11 ICU beds out of 103 were vacant in 10 Covid-19 dedicated government hospitals while 46 out of 164 in nine private hospitals in Dhaka city were vacant yesterday.
A physician deployed in the Covid-19 unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital wrote on his Facebook wall that the patients in general beds were turning critical but they could not provide ICU support to everyone.
As of yesterday, there are 549 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the country. Of those, 306, or 55.73 percent, were occupied.
This occupancy rate has surpassed the 53.57 percent on July 2 last year when 4,019 new daily cases were detected.
POSITIVITY RATE HIGHER THAN REPORTED?
Experts also hinted that the real positivity rate is higher than the reported numbers from the DGHS.
According to health officials, samples of around 5,000 members of law enforcement agencies who have been deployed for the twin national celebrations of Bangladesh’s golden jubilee of independence and the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, are being tested everyday as part of a regular screening purpose.
According to police department sources, around 8,000 members of the law enforcement agencies have been deployed for duty in the national celebrations.
Additionally, a number of outgoing passengers go through RT-PCR tests to get Covid-19 negative certificates required for travel abroad, sources said.
“If this number of people are excluded from the total testing figure, the number of tests done as part of transmission surveillance will come down. And the positivity rate will also go up,” Mushtuq Hussain, consultant of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told to the media.
In the 24 hours until 8:00am yesterday, a total of 681 samples were tested in the RT-PCR lab at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).
Of them, more than a hundred samples were of members of an intelligence agency.
“Usually, the positivity rate stays stagnant around four percent among [members of] law enforcement agencies we have been testing every day for the last week. If we exclude this number, the real positivity rate is a bit higher,” Mahbuba Zamil, head of the virology lab at the Institute of Public Health, told yesterday.
Asked whether the transmission will continue rising, she said, “We have to observe for a week more. Because, in our lab, we get different positivity rates — ranging from five to 10 percent — on different days. Yesterday, we had 10.1 percent positive cases — the highest in the last two months.”
She also said there is no alternative to wearing masks.
“It is important for all. More importantly, one who develops Covid-19 symptoms should test and isolate so that none can get the virus from that person.”