By Azad Majumder
Dhaka, June 18 (efe-epa).- The number of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh crossed the 100,000-mark on Thursday, the authorities said, as the densely populated South Asian country struggles to contain the pandemic.
The country recorded 3,803 new patients in the past 24 hours from Wednesday morning, taking the total number of cases to 102,292.
With the new cases, Bangladesh overtook Canada and is now 17th on the list of most-affected nations, according to the global coronavirus data released by John Hopkins University in the United States.
The death toll from the novel virus reached 1,343, including the deaths of 38 people in the past 24 hours, Nasima Sultana, additional director general of health services, said during the regular online bulletin on Covid-19 situation in the country.
Victims said the number of the originally infected people could be much higher than the official data as many people are refusing to get tested because of long sample collection queues and other hassles.
Banker Bipul Sarkar said he tested positive on Tuesday and three other members also developed the same symptoms but he did not take them for the test.
“I felt they don’t need a test because we all have the same symptoms and I am now tested positive. We are all taking the same medicine now,” he said, adding he avoided taking his family members to hospitals because “they are not in the best shape.”
According to the Health Emergency Operations control room, the country has only 12,034 beds and 339 ICU beds available in government and private hospitals for Covid-19 patients.
Most of these beds are occupied already, said health officials, adding they were taking different steps to help people taking treatment from home.
“We have telemedicine and hotline services for people taking treatment from home. In addition to that, we launched a service to reach people by phone on a random basis,” said Shahnila Ferdousi, head of the Communicable Disease Control of the health service.
Family members of infected people said they were struggling to find a seat in hospitals and some cases it turned out fatal.
Mostafa Jahir Uddin, a government employee, said he took his father in two government hospitals in early May but could not find an ICU bed for him despite waiting for hours.
“We managed to admit him to a private hospital finally but he died there six days later,” he said.
Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) said there are no adequate protections for doctors in many hospitals, resulting in several dozen deaths and infection of over 1,000 physicians.
“The infection rate among Bangladeshi doctor is possibly highest in the world,” said BMA secretary Ehteshamul Huq Choudhury.
“So far, 40 doctors have died – 36 of Covid-19 and four others with symptoms. According to our latest estimate, 1,035 doctors tested positive,” he said.
“Initially there was no protection for us. Later it improved after Prime Minister (Sheikh Hasina) spoke about it. But still, we don’t have 100 percent protection for doctors,” he said.
Bangladesh imposed a lockdown on Mar.26 to check the spread of the coronavirus.
However, the move dealt a blow to the country’s economy and caused significant unemployment, especially in the textile sector, which contributed nearly 84 percent of the country’s total exports in 2018-19 when it shipped products worth $34 billion.