Bangladesh on Friday reported the deaths of 37 more people, including 14 women, from Coronavirus, the lowest since March 28.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said the new fatalities pushed up the country’s death toll to 11,833 and the mortality rate to 1.54 %.
Besides, the DGHS said, 1,682 new cases were detected during the period following the test of 17,013 samples, taking the total case count to 770,842.
"The number of deaths, recorded so far, is lower compared to the number of positive cases. This warrants conduction of genomic sequencing to see if any new but less virulent variant is in the offing," Dr AM Zakir Hussain, former director of the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research, told UNB.
Also, the country's infection rate rose to 9.89%, which was 8.44% a day ago, according to the DGHS.
The number of Covid deaths came down to as low as 50 after over a month on Wednesday as Bangladesh saw 50 deaths earlier on April 1 and it had kept rising since then. The body count soared to over 100 during April 16-19 and on April 25 but the daily fatalities have been falling gradually since then.
According to the DGHS, 2,178 infected people recovered in the past 24 hours, putting the recovery rate at 91.37%.
Bangladesh has so far carried out 559,9276 nationwide tests since reporting its first coronavirus cases on March 8 last year, the first death on the 18th of that month.
Bangladesh launched its vaccination drive on February 7 with Oxford-AstraZeneca doses purchased from India's Serum Institute.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with Serum for 30 million doses. But a record number of cases in India has made the delivery of the doses uncertain.
India has tried to ward off its Covid crisis by ramping up its production of vaccines and banning their export, cutting off supplies to neighbours such as Bangladesh and Nepal as they struggle with infection surges.
The administering of the first dose has remained suspended in Bangladesh since April 26. Also, the country, the prime recipient of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, has suspended the registration for Covid-19 jabs due to vaccine shortage amid a delay in the timely arrival of shipments from India.
However, DGHS DG Prof ABM Khurshid Alam assured that Bangladesh would get 2.1 million doses of vaccines by early May.
Dwindling vaccine stock
India's shortage of shots has its global implications because, in addition to its vaccination efforts, the country promised to ship out vaccines abroad as part of a United Nations vaccine-sharing programme that is dependent on its supply.
The DGHS on Wednesday said the stock of the Covid-19 vaccine is dwindling in Bangladesh as there are only 14 lakh jabs left with no sign in sight to get a fresh consignment of it from India.
DGHS spokesperson Dr Robed Amin said, "We had around 1 crore and 2 lakh doses. Around 88 lakh jabs have already been administered as the first and second doses. Now we've some 14 lakh doses in stock."
Covid’s daily deaths in Bangladesh drop to 37
He said there will be a vaccine crisis if a fresh consignment does not arrive in the country before the existing stock is exhausted.
Vaccine expected from US
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said the government has intensified its efforts to have vaccine jabs from the USA as it will share up to 60 million doses of its Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine with other countries.
With India slapping a ban on the export of AstraZeneca vaccines made by its Serum Institute, Bangladesh is trying to get technology from Russia and China to produce their vaccines locally.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on April 28 approved in principle a proposal for producing Russian and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh.
The government on April 29 approved the emergency use of Sinopharm, a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, a day after approving the emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
"We'll get 5 lakh doses of the Chinese vaccine as a gift within 7-10 days. Then the government will start buying those on a G2G basis," Mahbubur Rahman, director general of the Directorate General of Drug Administration told reporters.
Lockdown extended again
The government has issued a notification extending the ongoing lockdown until May 16 with six fresh directives alongside the existing ones to contain the spread of Covid-19.
According to the notification issued by the Cabinet Division, the officials of all government, semi-government autonomous and private organisations, banks and financial institutions have been asked to remain at their respective workstations during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr holidays.
Shops and shopping malls will remain open from 10am to 8pm maintaining health guidelines. If any kind of deviation and violation are seen, the shopping malls and shops will be closed instantly, says the notification.
Inter-district transport services will remain closed while only intra-district transport services were allowed to operate ensuring health guidelines from Thursday. However, launch and train services will remain off.
India in the grip of Covid
Bangladesh's largest neighbour India is grappling with the worst outbreak and set yet another daily global record of 414,188 confirmed cases and 3,915 deaths on Friday, bringing the total to more than 21.4 million Covid-19 infections and over 234,000 deaths. However, the experts believe the actual figures were likely much higher.
The explosion of new Covid-19 cases is overwhelming India, leaving millions of people infected and putting stress on the country's already overtaxed health care system. The country has stepped up a vaccination drive for all its adults even though some states say do not have enough jabs.
The Indian government is facing mounting pressure to impose a strict nationwide lockdown, despite the economic pain it will exact, as an alarming surge in Covid cases that has pummeled the country's health system shows no signs of abating.
Months ago, India had appeared to be winning its battle against the pandemic. After a strict initial lockdown, the country did not see a surge in new cases and deaths compared to other countries.
But when the early restrictions were lifted, many people stopped taking precautions with large gatherings, political rallies and religious festivals being held at many places, drawing millions of people.
Bangladesh on alert
India's neighbours such as Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan are watching out for a potentially more infectious Covid-19 variant crossing the border from the country as they are also reporting a recent surge in new cases.
The new situation has prompted authorities in these countries to seal borders and restrict travel. However, given the porous nature of the borders, people cross frequently.
The surge in India has created big concerns for Bangladesh, where officials fear that new variants circulating in India could bring devastation.
On April 26, the country shut down borders with India for any kind of movement except that of cargoes for the next 14 days as sparks from India's pandemic wildfire seem to have gone out of control.
The National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 also recommended that the borders not reopen until the situation in India improves.
Source: United News of Bangladesh