Curbing Coronavirus

Increase testing, isolate suspects: Experts

Mohammad Al Amin

6 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Following a sharp surge in coronavirus cases, health experts have underscored the need for increasing testing to detect and isolate more and more Covid-19 patients to combat the virus transmission.

They also said proper treatment should be ensured for the Covid-19 patients to reduce to the fatality rate.

The experts emphasised the importance of proper implementation of restrictions imposed by the government on the movement of people, public transport and other activities to prevent the further spread of the virus.

“Coronavirus testing should be increased and proper isolation and treatment of Covid-19 patients will have to be ensured to keep the situation under control,” Dr Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told the Daily Sun.

He recommended applying the “mop-up” method to carry out testing and isolate the patients.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Bangladesh has reported 644,439 infections and 9,318 deaths from coronavirus till Monday.

Record 7,087 cases were detected over a 24-hour period till Sunday morning while second highest 7,075 cases were reported on Monday.

Earlier, 5,863 cases were registered on April 3 while 6,830 on April 2, 6,469 on April 1, 5,358 on March 31, 5,042 on March 30 and 5,181 on March 29.

Nazrul Islam, also former vice-chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said the coronavirus situation has taken a turn for the worse over the last few weeks with a rise in infections day by day. “The daily positivity rate has crossed 23 per cent for the last four consecutive days which is alarming. I’ve come to know that around 40-50 per cent of the total patients are getting infected with the highly contagious UK variant of the virus. The South Africa variant is also another fast-spreading strain which also may exist here,” he said.

Pointing to the huge rush of homebound people at different bus terminals, launch terminals and railway stations in the capital just after the announcement of the weeklong lockdown on Saturday, the virologist feared that the virus may spread to rural areas for such gatherings ignoring health guidelines.      

Mentioning that the immunity which was developed among people earlier is not working in Bangladesh as the new variant of the coronavirus is infecting people, he said there is no alternative to maintaining health guidelines, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, to curb the spread of the virus.

Talking to the Daily Sun, public health expert Prof Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed said the areas with highly virus transmission should be identified to detect and isolate more and more suspects. “Proper isolation and quarantine should be ensured to control the situation.”

“All necessary steps, including restricting public movement, will have to be taken to stem the surge in virus transmission,” he said.

About the reasons behind the spike in coronavirus cases, Prof Be-Nazir Ahmed said the health guidelines were ignored earlier as there were huge public gatherings for political and social programmes while people showed laxity in maintaining health guidelines. “The presence of more contagious variant of coronavirus is another reason as around 40-50 per cent of the Covid-19 patients are currently getting infected with the UK variant here,” he added.

In an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, the government enforced a weeklong countrywide lockdown on Monday, slapping restrictions on the movement of people, public transport and other activities.

It has also taken an initiative to increase 2,500 general beds and ICU beds for the Covid-19 patients across the country, said sources at the Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

In the capital, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) market has been turned into a Covid-19 hospital which has a capacity of 1,250 general beds, 50 ICU beds and 200 HDO beds.

The government is also increasing testing facilities across the country with 227 government and private labs -- 120 RT-PCR labs, 34 genexpert labs and 73 rapid antigen labs -- currently carrying out tests.

It is also planning to allow private hospitals to carry out antibody test, the ministry sources said.