Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday admitted that the community transmission of novel coronavirus began in the country and reported 182 new Covid-19 cases, so far the highest in a single day.
The total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 803. Besides, five more people have died after contracting the virus, which takes the death toll to 39.
"The community transmission has already started… we've to stay alert and ensure that it doesn't spread further," Zahid Maleque said at the regular bulletin on the coronavirus situation.
Earlier, the IEDCR had said the highly contagious virus, which is wreaking havoc on several countries, including the US, Italy and Spain, might have spread at Bangladesh's community level but "on a limited scale". It also said the outbreak was restricted to certain clusters in the country.
Zahid said 1,570 samples were tested in 24 hours till 2:30pm yesterday. Besides, three more people recovered in the 24 hours, raising the total number of recovery cases to 42.
No details on the newly infected or deceased were disclosed in the bulletin, which was aired online.
The minister reiterated that Bangladesh was still in a better condition compared to the USA and Europe. "No country can treat millions of patients in its hospitals," he said.
He claimed that the government was taking all-out steps to fight the outbreak. "We're allowing every public and private medical college at the district level to treat coronavirus patients."
He also said negotiations were underway with private hospitals, including Shahabuddin Hospital and Anwar Khan Medical College Hospital in the capital, for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. "We're also adding private hospitals in every district to this list."
As of Sunday, the virus spread to 29 districts out of the country's 64 districts. In the capital, it spread to 81 neighbourhoods, shows official data.
In the bulletin, Prof Nasima Sultana, additional director of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said the number of tests carried out in 24 hours till 2:30pm yesterday was 17 percent higher than that of the previous day.
She said 5,684 people were placed in home quarantine, 484 in institutional quarantine and 84 in isolation across the country.
She urged people to stay at home and maintain the sneezing and coughing etiquette to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, a six-year-old boy, who tested positive for Covid-19, died in Chattogram General Hospital early yesterday.
The boy was admitted to Patiya Upazila Health Complex on Saturday as he was suffering from fever and diarrhoea, said Dr Hasan Shahriar Kabir, divisional director of the DGHS in Chattogram.
His sample was collected and sent to Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at Faujdarhat to test for coronavirus.
After he tested positive for Covid-19, he was rushed to Chattogram General Hospital where he died around 2:30am yesterday.
INFECTION NUMBERS TO RISE: EXPERT
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday evening, Prof Nazrul Islam, virologist and former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said, "What we've understood in the last few days is that the [coronavirus] infection rate will go high soon."
He then criticised the authorities for coming up with "incomplete information" in the daily bulletins.
"I have never seen such type of press notes. They are hiding information," he said, demanding "right and complete" information from health officials.
He also criticised Zahid Maleque, saying the health minister, in the bulletin, said many were not obeying the government lockdown, but did not mention anything about the measures to be taken against them.
Prof ABM Abdullah, personal physician of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, thinks the infection rate might drop after three to four days.
"The law enforcement agencies are enforcing the nationwide lockdown strictly across the country. If they can continue it, the transmission will stop. So, the next 3-4 days are crucial for us."
He, however, agreed that people in many places were not staying indoors.