It is a matter of grave concern that the number of new Covid-19 cases in the country increased during the Eid holidays despite the fact that the number of tests dropped significantly during this time. According to the DGHS briefing, 50 people died of Covid-19 across the country in 24 hours till the morning of August 4 while on August 5, 33 new deaths were confirmed by them. The spike in the number of new infections and deaths is an ominous sign for the country which has apparently failed to ensure that the health guidelines given by the government to contain further spread of the virus are maintained by the people in general.
People have gone to the villages and come back to the cities in overcrowded buses, trains and launches, without maintaining any social distancing and health guidelines. They went to buy sacrificial animals in the local haats, went to the bazaars and mosques, hardly maintaining any health directives. Apparently, the authorities took little measures to make people abide by the government directives, which might have resulted in this sudden spike in new cases.
It is extremely disappointing to learn that the infection rate has increased to 24.6 percent in the last few days while it was 22.39 percent before the Eid holidays. While experts and the WHO have been repeatedly asking the government to increase testing coverage to curb the spread of the deadly virus, what we see is just the opposite—it has brought down the number of daily tests. A total of 11,160 samples were tested in 83 labs across the country in the last 24 hours until the DGHS briefing on August 5 while the previous day, only 7,712 samples were tested. And data shows that the number of tests per million people stands below 7,500 in Bangladesh. Despite that, Bangladesh is currently the 16th worst affected country in the world in terms of the number of cases.
Although in view of the situation, the government issued an order extending countrywide restrictions on public activities and movements from August 4 to August 31 and gave a fresh 10-point directive, we wonder if these directives can be properly enforced as the government previously failed to implement many such directives. We have seen how it struggled to enforce the zone-wise lockdown system.
The new directives include keeping markets, shops, and shopping malls closed by 8:00pm; making sure there are temperature-checking and hand-washing facilities, sanitisers, and vehicle disinfecting services at the entries to shopping malls, etc. It also said that people will have to face legal action if they do not wear masks, maintain social distancing and follow health guidelines while staying outside of home. We now hope that the government will strictly enforce these directives and also increase the number of tests to curb further spread of the virus in the country.