Since Sunday, May 31, after the end of a two-month national mandatory confinement, Bangladesh has seen a record death toll of COVID19 per day. At this time, official figures account for 87,520 confirmed cases and 1,171 deaths, although the actual number is believed to be much higher. As the country is plagued by a massive commotion and certain crises, public health systems are not coping, resulting in a total lack of signs indicating a flattening of the COVID-19 curve.
Public health incompetence in the midst of the pandemic
On June 9, the day that a higher court headed by Judge M Enayetur Rahim carried out an investigation into the state of the health centers, the Ministry of Health announced that the number of beds available in intensive care units (ICU ) of the country give a total of one thousand for a population of 165 million people, taking into account the capacity of both the public and private spheres. According to research, 47 districts of Bangladesh out of a total of 64 do not have an ICU service. This severe lack of intensive care services means that many critically ill patients have to delay their treatment in the face of the emergence of patients with COVID-19.
Journalist Shuprova Tasneem tweeted:
DGHS response to High Court order. There are only 733 ICU beds in government hospitals. This is what decades of underfunding the health sector, mismanagement and corruption does. Our health system is not equipped to deal with this health cristtttps: //t.co/w2dm42Rd6u
– Shuprova Tasneem (@ShuprovaTasneem) June 10, 2020
There are 733 ICU beds in state hospitals, reports the General Directorate of Health Services.
The Directorate General of Health Services reported today in Superior Court that there are a total of 733 beds of intensive care units in state hospitals in the country.
The response of the Ministry of Health to the order of the higher court: public hospitals only have 733 ICU beds. This is the result of decades of underfunded public health, mismanagement, and corruption. Our health system is not prepared to face this health crisis.
On June 12, 2020, Maria Taha from Chittagong could be seen placing an order on Faebook for the care of her father infected with COVID-19:
একটা icu কেউ manaz করে দিতে পারবেন
আমার আব্বুর জন্য
Can you save an ICU bed for my father?
A few hours later, he updated his post, and announced his father's death:
লাগবে না ICU. আর
An ICU bed is no longer needed. It's over.
This was Atiqur Rahman's reaction to the situation that Maria Taha was suffering:
চট্টগ্রাম এ চিকিৎসা সংকট নিয়ে বেশ কয়েকদিন ধরেই নানান খবর পাচ্ছিলাম। দিন দিন তা যে আরও খারাপ / প্রকট হচ্ছে তার-ই নমুনা এই ঘটনাটি। না, এটি কোন বিচ্ছিন্ন ঘটনা নয়; এটাই স্বাভাবিক ও তিক্ত সত্য।
We were receiving dropper information about the health crisis that Chittagong is going through due to COVID-19. The situation is getting worse every day and this incident is testimony to what I say. This is not an isolated case, it is the new normal and a bitter truth.
In addition, hospitals suffer from a shortage of oxygen because some people with resources are stocking up on oxygen tanks for fear of COVID-19, so the public health system is resentful. Since Bangladesh is largely dependent on imported medical supplies, and imports into the country were momentarily suspended, the shortage of equipment to administer oxygen in public hospitals is a real problem. Oxygen administration is one of the main treatments for patients with COVID-19.
According to a tweet by internet user Masud Karim:
– masudkarim মাসুদকরিম (@urumurum) June 7, 2020
Oxygen price increases astronomically.
Merchants manipulate cylinder price, rent as demand increases due to COVID-19 crisis.
The price of oxygen skyrocketed. Merchants manipulate the tank rate, renting equipment due to the increase in demand during the COVID-19 crisis, as reported by Kamrun Nahar.
However, suffering is not limited to patients who are victims of the coronavirus. Treatment is also denied to those patients who do not have COVID-19 but suffer respiratory diseases for fear that they are asymptomatic carriers of the circulating virus.
Read more: Frontline health workers in Bangladesh struggle with lack of resources, stigma and restrictions
Insufficient protection for front-line health professionals
Doctors and health professionals are victims of the current state of decline of the national health system. Until the second week of June 2020, the total number of infected doctors was 1,169 and 35 died after suffering from CONVID-19.
The insufficient supply of personal protective equipment in the country means that the risk for doctors and nurses is greater. There are no statistics available on the number of physicians in treatment, quarantined, or infected. However, this is bound to become a major problem.
“#Nurses & #midwives are #frontline healthcare workers resonding to # COVID19, and this means they must protect themselves. They must have proper #PPE. They should also have the proper training on how to use PPE effectively. ” – Dr Dewan Emdadul Hoque, @UNFPA #Bangladesh pic.twitter.com/mEP0eKNEKm
– UNFPA Bangladesh (@UNFPABangladesh) June 6, 2020
Nurses and midwives are front-line health personnel at COVID-19. This means that they must have protection, with indicated personal protective equipment. In addition, they must have adequate training on how to use this protection correctly.
Bangladesh lifts confinement amid rising numbers of infected
Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases, Bangladesh lifted the containment on March 31, 2020. Experts say the number of infected is on the rise because various phases of the confinement, which were taken as vacations, were not strictly enforced.
On June 13, 2020, businessman Nazmul Hossen Shwroz reported via Facebook that Bangladesh had passed to China in the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases:
♦ ️করোনা আক্রান্তের সংখ্যায় চীনকে ছাড়াল বাংলাদেশ ..!
♦ ️গত বছরের ডিসেম্বরের শেষ দিকে করোনাভাইরাস মহামারী শুরু হয়েছিল চীন থেকে। সেই দেশটি একে একে ১৮ টি দেশের পেছনে পড়ে গেল। এবার আক্রান্তের সংখ্যায় তাদের পেছনে ফেলল বাংলাদেশও।
Bangladesh has passed to China in the number of people affected by COVID-19, ranked 18th in the world ranking.
COVID-19 started to appear in China in December 2019. In 18 countries around the world, the number of infected people today is higher than in China.
Is confinement by zone the solution?
On June 10, Manzil Morshed, a member of the Supreme Court, filed a petition on behalf of lawyer Mahbubul Islam to request full confinement of Dhaka to flatten the coronavirus transmission curve.
Starting June 9, 2020, Bangladesh began testing a zoning system by classifying places as red, yellow, or green according to the severity of COVID-19 infections among people. A region is classified with the color red if in the area a total of 40 people out of 100,000 test positive for COVID-19. These red zones are subjected to strict confinement in which people are not allowed to leave their homes and doors are closed for those who do not live there.
The crowded Rohingya refugee camps at Cox's Bazar are also under surveillance as the number of positive coronavirus cases is now over 35 with about five officially recorded deaths.
Filmmaker Shafiur Rahman tweeted:
– Shafiur Rahman (@shafiur) June 8, 2020
Upazila government instructions for red zone implementation in Ukhiya.
All private, family, social and political gatherings in the red zone are prohibited. Everyone has instructions to stay in their respective houses.
This is a list of measures that were implemented in the Ukhia red zone. These measures affect the Rohingya refugee camps.
However, implementing zone confinement will be a complicated task, according to Dr. Parvez Reza's tweet:
– Dr. Parvez Reza (@ DrParvezReza2) June 11, 2020
The Ministry of Health designated the eastern area of Rajabazar as a red zone and declared total confinement to stop the spread of COVID-19. EXITING IS PROHIBITED!
IntentaMan tries to escape from the red zone in eastern Rajabazar, zone in total confinement to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The National Council on COVID-19 recently advised that confinement should be extended to areas beyond the risk zone to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Full implementation of zoned containment in the country began in mid-June.
Netizen Soykat Bin Rahman tweeted:
As coronavirus cases and fatalities continue to rise in Bangladesh, the government has taken all necessary preparations to bring hotspots (red zone) under lockdown and will declare closure in those areas to prevent entry and exit.
– 🇧🇩 Soykat Bin Rahman 🇺🇸 (@MdShaheenPervez) June 13, 2020
As coronavirus sick and death cases continue to grow in Bangladesh, the Government has taken all necessary measures to implement confinement in the affected red areas and closed these areas to prevent movement of people.
Dr. Ashikur Rahman believes that Bangladesh needs stricter confinement:
Bangladesh needs to impose a strict lockdown before this #Covid-19 wave turns into a Tsunami. Time is no longer a luxury as people are dying on the streets. I hope and pray a policy correction happens. #Bangladesh
– Ashikur Rahman (@Dr_Ashikur) June 13, 2020
Bangladesh needs to implement strict confinement before this wave of COVID-19 turns into a tsunami. We can no longer afford to waste time. People are dying on the streets. I hope and pray for a policy that will correct this problem.