Covid spreads to rural areas of frontier districts Pandemic situation continues to deteriorate

21 June 2021
Covid spreads to rural areas of  frontier districts Pandemic situation continues to deteriorate

Corona positive Mim Akhtar was admitted to the ICU unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) with breathing problems. She is being taken to a general bed of the hospital yesterday with oxyzen mask on her face.


Special Correspondent  :
The Covid-19 infections have been spreading in rural Bangladesh where public health services are scarce and already overstretched.
Community transmission of Delta variant and peoples' ignorance to maintain health rules have been blamed for the virus transmission in rural areas.  
"Coronavirus situation is worsening in the country and for the first time, we have seen that rural areas have been affected in this pandemic," said Professor Dr. S.K. Md. Saidur Rahman, the Head of the Department of Pharmacology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
He pointed out that the government had announced a nationwide lockdown in April, triggering a mass exodus of people from capital Dhaka. Besides, roughly 10 million people went to their village homes to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. These events have fueled the spread of coronavirus virus to the upazila levels and rural areas of Bangladesh.  
"Moreover, coronavirus is now spreading fast in frontier districts due to porous Bangladesh-India borders. People of bordering districts were reportedly flouting the health rules and going about for their businesses in India where the Delta variant of coronavirus was detected first. The Indian variant has already made its way into upazilas of bordering districts, where daily coronavirus cases and fatalities are rising sharply," he added.
Bangladesh, now in the grip of a second wave of the pandemic, has logged more than 3000 cases every day for more than two weeks. The overall death toll from coronavirus reached 13,548, with 82 more deaths reported on Sunday.
Experts have said the numbers may be an underestimate, due to low testing rates, particularly in rural areas.
"Delta variant might be one of the causes that fuels the new infections. The rate of infection is particularly higher in the frontier districts due to the influx of Delta variant and peoples' ignorance to follow health protocols," Professor Tahmina Shirin, Director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research (IEDCR), told The New Nation.
She said, "Deaths from Covid is also rising amid surge in infection."   "Bangladesh has experienced an upward trend of Covid-19 cases recently amid the spread of the highly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant (first emerged in India), increased travel and relaxing restrictions. Hospitalisations, too, are on the rise due to surge in confirmed cases of Covid-19," Prof. Muzaherul Huq, former Adviser, South-East Asia region, World Health Organization (WHO), told The New Nation.
He said the Delta variant, in particular, doubles risk of Covid hospitalisation.
Prof Muzahenul Huq, the founder of Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, asked people to continue to follow public health protocols until the vaccine becomes even more widely available and continues to slow disease spread.
Besides, hospitals in districts towns are now facing shortage of emergency oxygen supplies and ICU beds as the country's coronavirus cases are on the rise.
"There are 30 ICU beds in our hospital. But all of them are now occupied amid surge in Covid-19 patients," said Brigadier General Shamim Yeazdani, Director of Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH).
"Many critical patients remain standby for ICU beds, but we are helpless and cannot provide them the facility due to limited number of ICU beds," he said.
The RMCH director, however, said that they have got allocation for setting up additional number of ICU beds in the hospital. But setting the ICU beds will take time.     
Besides, the pressure of Covid-19 patients is growing in RMCH where about 50 per cent of the patients admitted are from villages. Most of them are farmers or housewives while most of the people who are coming to the hospital in the city are businessmen.
RMCH Director Brigadier General Dr Shamim Yazdani confirmed the matter in a regular briefing on Sunday
He said most of the patients are from Godagari and Tanore upazilas.
Dr Shamim Yazdani said some 365 patients are undergoing treatment at the hospital against its capacity of 309 beds in the Covid-19 ward.
RMCH recorded 10 more Covid related deaths in the 24 hours until 6 am on Sunday amid spike in Covid-19 infections in frontier districts.
Officials said hospitals in 37 districts lack ICU facilities and even many of them do not have uninterrupted oxygen supply.
Meanwhile, three people have died while 102 others tested positive for Covid in the past 24 hours in Chapainawabganj district, as situation continues to worsen in the frontier districts.
Civil Surgeon Dr. Zahid Nazrul Chowdhury said that samples of 601 people were tested, and results of 102 people emerged positive.
The positivity rate of Covid-19 in the district is 16.97 per cent.
Besides, health authorities have recorded 28 deaths in Khulna division in the last 24 hours until Sunday morning, the highest ever fatalities logged in a day.
Of them, seven people died in Kushita district, two each in Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat districts, four each in Jashore and Jhenaidah districts, five in Chuadanga and one each in Narail and Magura districts.
Besides, 763 people turned out to be positive in the division during the same period, said Rasheda Sultana, Director (Health) of Khulna division.
She said that 194 people made recovery from Covid-19 during the period.

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