Coronavirus Epidemic: Worrisome leap in deaths, infections | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 07, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:43 AM, April 07, 2020

Coronavirus Epidemic: Worrisome leap in deaths, infections

3 die, 35 test positive, highest in a single day

The authorities yesterday reported the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus and confirmed infections in 15 districts.

In 24 hours, three people died and 35 others tested positive for the virus, health department officials told a daily briefing.

The official death toll is now 12 and confirmed cases 123. Twelve of the new patients are residents of the capital.

The new cases were confirmed after 468 tests. Since March 8, when the first case was reported, the authorities have tested 4,011 people.

More cases are being detected after multiple testing facilities started operation in different districts.

"The virus is no longer limited to one place. It is spreading gradually," Prof Abul Kalam Azad, DG of the Directorate General of Health Services, told yesterday's briefing from his office.

In the morning, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said four people died from coronavirus and 29 others tested positive. Asked about the difference in the numbers, Prof Azad said, "The number of deaths in the past 24 hours is three. There was confusion regarding the misspelled name of a deceased. Later, it was confirmed that three people had died, not four."

He added that reports of six more patients were submitted later.

At the briefing, Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), said among the new cases, 11 are aged between 41 and 50 and six are 21 and 30. Thirty of them are male, she said.

Of the detected patients, the authorities have been able to trace the source of infection of 88. How the others got infected remains unknown, she said.

The capital has the highest number of infections. Of the 123 cases, 64 are in Dhaka. The second highest cases, 23, are in Narayanganj.

Prof Azad said the evidence of cluster transmission was found in five places.

"We've found cases in 15 districts. We consider the places where many patients have been identified as a cluster. We've found such clusters in Dhaka city," he said.

In Dhaka, such clusters are in Mirpur and Bashabo. The other clusters are in Narayanganj, Gaibandha and Madaripur.

The DG said they were putting a place under lockdown when cases were detected there.

HEALTH MINISTER HELPLESS?

Zahid Maleque is the chief of the National Committee on Covid-19.

"I have been made the chairman of the national committee as the health minister. However, the decisions are taken on behalf of the committee without our [health ministry] knowledge," he told a discussion of healthcare professionals.

"Other than the health issues, nothing is discussed with us. Even decisions like the closure of factories, prayers at the mosques and suspension of transportation are not discussed with us.

"I cannot reply to journalists' questions… I am blamed for not knowing anything despite being the head of the national committee."

He said he had asked the health secretary to ask other officials to discuss the issues with the health ministry. The ministry is facing problems while enforcing lockdown, he said.

"Other countries are enforcing lockdowns, but there is dilly dallying in the enforcement in our country. You will see people thronging in markets every day. Vehicles, rickshaws and vans are on the roads. You will find no shortage of people in markets in the morning and afternoon."

About garment workers trudging back to Dhaka in hordes, he said, "We do not want to see such a thing in the future again. And decisions should be taken after coordinating with us in the future.

"If transmission spreads to all places, we will not be able to accommodate [patients in the hospitals]. So, we have to be sincere and make specific decisions."

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