Faster increase in new cases
Bangladesh is seeing a more rapid increase in Covid-19 cases compared to some other Asian countries, with the number doubling every five days, said the World Health Organization (WHO).
The number of cases is also shooting up as the government increased the number of testing facilities and tests per day.
The number of Covid-19 positive cases rose to a record 1,617 on a single day with 16 new deaths, said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
A total of 10,207 tests was carried out in 24 hours since Tuesday morning in 43 labs, said Prof Dr Nasima Sultana, additional director general (administration) of the DGHS.
Meanwhile, government officials and experts fear further increase in infection at the coastal areas due to difficulties in maintaining social distance inside the cyclone shelters.
The death toll now stands at 386.
Among the dead, seven were from Dhaka, five from Chattogram, one from Sylhet and another from Rangpur divisions.
Data shows, Bangladesh reported its first confirmed Covid-19 case on March 8 and crossed 100 cases on April 9. It then exceeded 200 cases in two days.
"As of May 18 the cases began doubling every five days,"case doubling is around five day time," said the latest situation report by WHO.
The increase in the number of cases is higher in India than in Bangladesh. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka's Covid-19 case-growth rate is slower than Bangladesh's.
Expressing fear that the risk of infection will rise among the people taking shelter at the cyclone centers, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Trust, told this correspondent that the government should not move all the people from the coastal areas at the same time.
The local administration should move only the people of high-risk areas and evacuate them 10 hours before the cyclone hits, he said, adding that this would reduce exposure to the virus.
"Early transfer means they will have to provide food to these people. Naturally, during the distribution, social distancing will be violated," he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Bhola Mohammed Masud Alam Siddique said they have so far moved 3.5 lakh people to about 1,104 cyclone centers.
He said they are requesting people at the cyclone centers to maintain distance, wear masks and wash hands regularly.
"It's difficult to manage such a huge amount of people…. Officials working at the centers are also under the risk of contracting the coronavirus infection."
Speaking to this correspondent over phone, Dr Nasima said, "Like the people on the ferries, the people at the shelters have similar risks of getting infected."
Recently, a huge number of people thronged ferries to leave Dhaka.
Asked whether testing would be hampered at the coastal districts due to the cyclone, she replied, "It's obvious."
"But, two or three days' delay will not be a big deal," she added.
Prof Muzaherul Huq, former Southeast Asia regional director of WHO, on the other hand, said it is essential to detect Covid-19 infected people immediately. "Any delay at all will increase the risk of infection and spread," he added.
He suggested that the government isolate the infected people and put them in institutional quarantine facilities immediately.