‘Fourth wave’: Dozens die in Bangladesh in past 5 days from COVID-19 pandemic news

Dhaka, Bangladesh – At least 32 people died from the coronavirus disease in Bangladesh in the first five days of July, data compiled by Al Jazeera showed, as the country reported a sharp rise in infections that experts say was due to the virus.

The South Asian country reported nearly 2,000 new cases and seven COVID-related deaths on Tuesday, with a trend showing a positivity rate of 16.74 percent, according to a daily bulletin issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

The latest figures put the country’s total death toll at 29,181, while the total number of cases has risen to about 2 million since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

Just a month ago, Bangladesh detected just 43 new cases, with a daily positivity rate of less than 1%.

Experts fear this could be the arrival of a fourth wave of the coronavirus in Bangladesh, citing a new sub-variant of the deadly Omicron variant as the reason for the surge in cases.

A study conducted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh (icddr,b) found that the BA.5 sub-variant is spreading rapidly in the country. These sub-variants are classified as variants of interest by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“The recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country requires continued public health and social measures,” icddr,b said in a statement.

During the six-week period between May 14 and June 24, Omicron BA.5 “became the most dominant sub-variant,” the statement said.

“During this period, 51 of the 52 COVID-19 positive cases were identified as BA.5 subvariant and 1 BA.2 by using full genome sequencing,” it added.

“The Fourth Wave”

To curb the spread of the virus, the Bangladeshi government on June 28 instructed its officials to implement a “no mask, no service” policy in all offices and public spaces.

The government’s COVID-19 National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) recommends enhanced screening of all incoming passengers at airports.

NTAC chairman Dr Mohammad Shahidullah told Al Jazeera that infections could rise further if people do not follow health guidelines.

“We can already call this the fourth wave of COVID-19. I urge everyone to practice social distancing again,” he said.

Shahidullah said they were not considering any lockdown “because it is not a viable solution, especially given its economic impact”.

Dr M Mushtuq Husain, consultant at the Bangladesh Institute for Epidemiological Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told Al Jazeera that many people around the world are now treating COVID-19 “like the flu”.

“Of course people will die from the coronavirus, but we can’t have a lockdown anymore. Life has to go on, but be careful,” Hussein said.

The government has vaccinated more than 70% of its 160 million people with two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, while nearly 15% have received booster shots.

“You are protected from infection for an average of three months after being vaccinated. Previous COVID also protects you for about three months at best,” Hussain said.

Hussain, however, fears the worst in the coming days as the Muslim-majority country prepares for next week’s Eid al-Adha.

Officials said crowded markets, especially large bull markets used for sacrificial ceremonies, could be “super-spreaders” of the virus.

Before the festival every year, some temporary camps appear, mainly in the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong, where cattle traders from all over the country sell their cattle and goats, and millions of people attend.

The two cities are among the largest in the country and have also seen millions of people travel by train, bus, ferry and private car to the countryside to celebrate the holiday with their families.

“Because of the bull market and Eid al-Fitr, I believe this wave will peak in mid-July. But it will also subside quickly — by the end of July,” Hussein said.

Source link