Bangladesh surpasses China in terms of confirmed cases

With numbers of reported new cases and deaths growing almost every day, Bangladesh has overtaken China in terms of confirmed coronavirus cases

Jun 14, 2020

With numbers of reported new cases and deaths growing almost every day, Bangladesh has overtaken China in terms of confirmed coronavirus cases.

The authorities yesterday reported 2,856 new cases, bringing the total official count to 84,379. This makes Bangladesh the 18th worst-hit country in the pandemic.

Officially acknowledged cases in China, where the coronavirus was first reported, is 84,228, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the virus across the world.

The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) reported 44 more deaths from the deadly virus in the 24 hours preceding 2:30pm, bringing the recorded death toll to 1,139. The fatality rate now stands at 1.35 percent.

The country's official death toll has been relatively low, but a new projection by a team of experts put the number of daily fatalities to between 70 and 100 by the end of June.

The team of experts from the University of Dhaka, DGHS, and University of Toronto predict that the number of confirmed cases may reach 163,000 by the end of this month. Earlier on June 3, this team projected the number to be 123,000.

"We use official data to make this projection using epidemiological models. As the number of tests slightly increased and the economy reopened, our new projection shows higher numbers," Shafiun Shimul, lead researcher of the team, also an associate professor of Dhaka University Health Economics, told The Daily Star.

The fatality rate is low in Bangladesh because some deaths are not reported, he said, adding that the actual rate must be higher. The demographic pattern of the population -- a vast number of young people -- also keeps the fatality at a low level.

"With the rise in new cases, our hospitals might not be able to treat all the patients, leading to a rise in the fatalities."

The first coronavirus cases were reported in Bangladesh on March 8. Despite the dense population and underfunded public hospitals, there was no deluge of infections over the first couple of weeks.

The number of daily new cases went past 1,000 on May 11, and 2,000 on May 27. The DGHS reported over 3,000 cases three days in a row last week.

A total of 165 deaths were reported in the last four days.

Experts said the daily new cases fall a little bit when more tests are done in areas where the outbreak is less severe.

After more than two months of shutdown, the government reopened the economy on June 1. Offices, shopping malls opened their doors while transport services resumed.

Prof Nazrul Islam, member of the government's National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, said, "The number of cases has not jumped too much. So, I think the situation may continue like this in Bangladesh."

He added, "It is difficult to estimate the number of daily deaths in the days to come because we don't have enough data. But I think it will increase."

The noted virologist added, "If no intervention is made, it will continue until herd immunity is achieved. Otherwise, we have to impose a complete lockdown again."

During the daily briefing yesterday, Prof Nasima Sultana, additional director general at the DGHS, said a total of 16,638 samples were tested in 59 laboratories across the country.

More than 578 Covid-19 patients recovered in the 24 hours preceding 2:30pm, taking the total recoveries to 17,827.

The recovery rate now stands at 21.13 percent, she said.

Among the 44 people reported dead yesterday, 33 were men and the rest women. Nineteen were from Dhaka, 13 from Chattogram, two from Sylhet, four from Rajshahi, four from Barishal, one from Rangpur and one from Khulna division.

One was aged between 21 and 30 years, six between 31 and 40, five between 41 and 50, 11 between 51 and 60, 11 between 61 and 70, seven between 71 and 80, and three between 81 and 90.

A total of 496 people were placed in isolation across the country during the 24-hour period.

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