Bangladesh’s coronavirus cases cross half million mark

Dhaka, Dec 20 (efe-epa) – The number of coronavirus cases in Bangladesh on Sunday crossed the 500,000-mark, authorities said, even as the densely populated South Asian country struggles to contain the pandemic.

The country recorded 1,153 new patients within the past 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 500,713.

The death toll from the virus rose to 7,280 with 38 fresh cases reported since Saturday, according to a statement from the Directorate General of Health Services.

With these numbers, Bangladesh became the 27th country to have at least half-a-million cases of COVID-19, according to data complied by United States-based Johns Hopkins University.

Experts have warned that the real situation in the country of over 160 million people could be much worse than what the official figures indicated.

“The information we are getting is not real. We are not getting the correct information about the number of tests, infections and deaths. Many people are dying with symptoms and there is no record of that,” Muzaherul Huq, a former regional adviser of the World Health Organization, told EFE.

Huq alleged that the government was only providing partial data as it could not ensure equitable access to testing facilities for all people.

“As long as tests for all, quarantine and contract tracing would not be ensured, we might never get the real picture,” he said.

A study conducted jointly by the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research and Dhaka-based International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, published earlier this month, said that around nine percent or 1.8 million of the 20 million residents of capital Dhaka may have been infected by the virus.

Huq said the situation was turning worse for Bangladesh due to people’s reluctance to follow the health guidelines and the government’s lax attitude towards enforcing them.

Bangladesh had imposed a nationwide 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 – worth $34 billion – in 2018-19

The country-wide lockdown measures were lifted on May 31.

Considering the economic toll of the pandemic, the government reopened all facilities in phases, except educational institutes.

On Friday, the education ministry of the country extended the closure of all educational institutes in the country until January 16. EFE-EPA


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