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A year of Covid-19: Bangladesh defies all odds

  • Published at 11:03 pm March 7th, 2021
covid-19 masks
Md Manik/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh’s performance in the Covid-19 pandemic was recently recognized in Bloomberg’s Covid-19 resilience ranking

When the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Bangladesh on March 8 last year, health experts were in a panic. Limited healthcare facilities and a large population combined with the extremely contagious coronavirus was a recipe for disaster, they had thought. 

One year on, Bangladesh has defied forecasts and logic to somehow stay above water. Over 550,000 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed and nearly 8,500 people have died in the country, but this is far from a bad record for a country with over 160 million people.

According to Worldometer, a statistic aggregating website, Bangladesh has the 34th highest number of cases in the world. However, the only countries that have registered fewer cases than Bangladesh while having a larger population are Nigeria (158,237 cases with population of about 210 million) and China (89,975 cases with population of 1.4 billion).

A more objective indicator of the Covid-19 situation in a particular country is deaths per million population. In this indicator, Bangladesh ranked 81st lowest with 51 deaths, which is better than many more developed countries such as Japan (rank 91 with 65 deaths), Norway, (106th with 116 deaths) and the Netherlands (184th with 921 deaths).

Globally, deaths per million population stands at about 334.

Bangladesh’s performance in the Covid-19 pandemic was recently recognized in Bloomberg’s Covid-19 resilience ranking, where the country ranked 24th out of 53 economies in the world that are worth over $200 billion.

Bangladesh was also among the first countries in the world to begin vaccinating the population, with the nationwide vaccination campaign kicking off on February 7. A total 3,789,352 people have been vaccinated in the country, so far, and 5,017,804 people have registered for the vaccine.

Regarding Bangladesh’s performance in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Additional Director General (Admin) Dr Nasima Sultana said: “There were several festivals and events during the pandemic, such as Eid and janazas after the deaths of some religious leaders. Some religious leaders made the situation worse by holding large gatherings at those times.

“However, we learned from our mistakes quickly and brought the situation under control. Although some people are still testing positive for Covid-19, the lower positivity rate at the moment shows that we are in control,” she added.

She also warned that people need to continue following health guidelines to keep the rate low, or they risk starting a second wave.

“Some people are behaving recklessly, which is why the positivity rate has gone up slightly again. If people continue to defy health rules, the virus may spread again,” the ADG said.

DGHS Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam said Bangladesh would be doing even better now if people had worn facemasks properly from the very beginning of the pandemic.

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