Covid-19 danger far from over, experts warn
There is no chance the coronavirus outbreak will come to an end without proper measures to curb its transmission, leading experts said.
The transmission might become even more dangerous because people do not abide by the virus restrictions, they warned.
Besides, the actual level of transmission remains unknown until a countrywide survey is done.
"Those who are dying with Covid-19 symptoms are not counted in the [government] list. I have talked to different hospitals across the country. The number of patients with breathing problems have increased compared with the number 10 days earlier," Dr M Iqbal Arslan, president of Swadhinata Chikitshak Parishad told The Daily Star.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque drew flak from experts two weeks ago after saying, "Whether the vaccine comes or not, coronavirus will leave the country."
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases surpassed the three-lakh mark on August 26.
The death toll had also crossed the 4000-mark the same day, and on an average around 40 patients have been dying every day over the last month.
On Wednesday, acting director general of the DGHS Prof ABM Khurshid Alam told journalists at an event that the transmission was on the rise near the country's borders.
At the same event, Prof Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general of the DGHS, said, "Although there are limitations in measuring the situation-based cases in hospital settings, an analysis of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases indicate that transmission rates have fallen in some areas while increased in many.
"If measures like social distancing and the use of masks are not ensured, it will not be long before transmission increases," she added.
Prof Iqbal said "misleading remarks" from the government will only worsen the situation.
"We heard similar comments in March when the pandemic had not yet turned serious… Now such comments may turn the situation more complex," said the biochemistry professor who is also a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19.
"We took the wrong track at the outset. And such comments are proof that we are still not on the right track."
The leader of the pro-Awami League association of physicians also observed that respiratory infections in patients are more severe nowadays.
"Patients are needing more oxygen support now than they did 10 days ago. The number of patients requiring ICU support is also increasing.
"Those who are saying Covid-19 transmission has reduced or is under control are not saying things based on data."
Renowned virologist Prof Nazrul Islam, also a member of the NTAC, said there is no evidence suggesting that the outbreak has been contained.
"The positivity rate has been falling over the last few days. However, it cannot be said right now that the transmission has reduced. We have to observe one more week… If the transmission rate continues to go down for two consecutive weeks, we might say the transmission will stay that way [in the future]," he told The Daily Star.
Prof Dr Rashid-E-Mahbub, former president of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), also thinks there is no basis for the minister's statement.
"A smaller percentage of people are testing positive these days. But we are not testing en masse," he said.
The situation could be assessed if antigen or antibody based rapid tests were done in the communities.
"There is no scientific basis behind claims that the transmission has reduced," he said, adding, "If we want to understand the level of transmission, we have to survey the people en masse."
He warned of bitter outcomes if the government chose to reopen everything and health rules are flouted.
"And I don't see any sign of people obeying the rules," he added.