On April 5 last year, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital Assistant Professor Dr Md Moyeen Uddin tested positive for Covid-19. He was the very first of such patients in Sylhet, and was the first doctor of the country to have succumbed to the virus on April 15.
A year later, Sylhet is among the districts with the highest Covid-19 cases, with 11,043 cases and 225 deaths till yesterday, according to the Divisional Health Office in Sylhet.
According to a list prepared by Sylhet Health Department based on multiple factors, the district is at fifth-highest risk of Covid-19. Sylhet has been under high risk for many reasons, including inbound UK returnees carrying new strain of Covid-19, failed institutional quarantine system for returnees and lax vigilance of administration when imposing health rules.
As a result of such negligence of authorities and citizens, Covid-19 dedicated hospitals in Sylhet were overwhelmed with 161 patients yesterday.
Dr Chayan Roy, acting resident medical officer of Sylhet Shaheed Shamsuddin Ahmed Hospital, said, "We're maxed out every day, and there is no bed available at the ICU [intensive care unit], although many infected patients in the regular ward need ICU support."
The 100-bed hospital, dedicated for treating Covid-19 patients, has only 16 ICU beds.
"Unlike the very first months of the pandemic, patients are now coming in worse conditions, and are demanding more oxygen. We're struggling to manage more inbound patients," the doctor explained.
Meanwhile, other hospitals providing Covid-19 treatment facilities like North East Medical College Hospital and Mount Adora Hospital have also seen a sharp rise in patients in the last couple of weeks.
Dr Md Anisur Rahman, recent former assistant director (disease control) of Sylhet Divisional Health Office, said, "After a year of the pandemic, we have realised that prevention capacity is more important than treatment capacity. Stricter initiative is a must to control the situation, before it goes out of hand."
Faruque Mahmud Chowdhury, president of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik's (Shujan) Sylhet chapter, said, "Since the very beginning of the pandemic, we've seen that people are not much aware of the situation, and the administration always failed to impose laws to control the state of affairs. They must be strict to enforce law, so that the situation doesn't go out of hand this time."
M Kazi Emdadul Islam, deputy commissioner of Sylhet, said, "We're acting as per government instructions, as infections are spreading rapidly. Stricter action will be taken as per government order."