Bangladesh records highest daily Covid-19 cases since virus outbreak

Dhaka, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- Bangladesh Wednesday recorded 5,358 Covid-19 infections, its highest daily cases since the coronavirus outbreak last year.

The second wave has tightened its grip on the country with a sharp rise in daily infections and deaths for the past many days.

Health officials said the virus claimed 52 in the last 24 hours. Bangladesh has 611,295 Covid-19 cases, including 9,046 deaths.

It was the third consecutive day for the country to log over 5,000 cases.

The health department detected 5,181 infections Monday and 5,042 Tuesday. It also reported 45 deaths each day.

The cases started declining in January when Bangladesh recorded less than 1,000 daily cases for 51 consecutive days from Jan.11 to Mar.2 before the infections began to rise again .

“The second wave has begun clearly. Even today, positivity rate is nearly 20 percent,” said Nazrul Islam, a virologist, and member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19.

Amid a fresh surge of infections, Bangladesh authorities imposed new restrictions Monday.

These include mandatory 14-day quarantine for those traveling from Europe.

The government has asked offices and factories to operate at only 50 percent of their workforce.

Public transport operators have also been asked to operate vehicles with 50 percent capacity only.

The authorities earlier withdrew most of the Covid-19 restrictions except on educational institutions, which remain closed since Mar.16, 2020.

“The restriction is okay. But there’s nothing mentioned how these would be implemented. The relevant authorities have to work in field about these restrictions immediately,” said Islam.

The second wave of infection coincided with a looming crisis related to the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

Bangladesh officially started mass vaccinations on Feb.7 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the drive towards the end of January.

The country is using the vaccine jointly developed by the Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

It has so far received nine million doses of the vaccine.

These include two million shots as a gift from India and another seven million through a purchase agreement between the vaccine’s regional producer, Serum Institute of India, and a local vendor.

Bangladesh authorities in November signed an agreement with the Serum Institute and its local partner Beximco Pharmaceuticals to purchase a total of 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to a health services statement, more than 5.31 million people were inoculated until Monday.

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