Infection rate likely to continue decreasing till September 15 before spiking again, they say
Health experts fear that the recent downward trend in the Covid-19 infection rate and deaths is only temporary and that another wave of the pandemic may be just around the corner.
The infection rate may drop to as low as 10% by September 15, only to start rising again afterwards, they warned.
A Covid-19 test positivity rate of 12.78%, which was recorded on Friday, increased slightly to 13% on Saturday. It is predicted to stay steady at this level or decline slightly over the next two or three weeks.
Meanwhile, after two months of triple-digit deaths, the number of daily fatalities dropped to 80 on Saturday.
Why three weeks?
Following Eid-ul-Azha, Covid-19 restrictions across the country were eased from August 11. Since then, there has been a significant increase in inter-district travel, while garment factories, markets, zoos, and tourist spots have been reopened, posing a great risk of Covid-19 transmission.
“The lockdown and restrictions before Eid had limited public gatherings, which led to the reduction in infections and deaths over the past week. The downward trend is expected to continue into the second week of September, before we start feeling the effects of the easing of the restrictions,” Dr Mostak Hossain, former chief scientific officer of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told Dhaka Tribune.
The infection rate is expected to increase two or three weeks after the easing of restrictions as it usually takes about two weeks for symptoms of Covid-19 to become visible, he added.
Virologist Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, said: “We can say the infection rate is declining if it drops below 6%. We have recently seen it drop to 12%, and we are expecting it to drop to 10% by September 15.”
He also said research was being conducted to assess the impact of previous Covid-19 lockdowns.
Dr Anisur Rahman, head of the ICU Department at Mugda Medical College and Hospital, said the pressure of patients had eased in the last two weeks.
“Not long ago, there were 300-320 patients in the Covid ward. For the past week, there have only been about a hundred patients there,” he added.
What measures can be taken?
Dr Mostak Hossain said action would need to be taken depending on whether the infection rate began climbing quickly or slowly. The main factor would be whether or not infections spread in clusters.
“In cluster-based infections, it is seen that many people are infected at the same time in the same area. For example, at one time it was seen that most new patients were from Rajabazar in Dhaka.
“In the case of clusters, we are planning to take special measures by monitoring data from the whole country. Cluster-based infections spread rapidly, so it is risky. Such a situation may occur after three weeks,” he added.
However, he warned that it was difficult and time consuming to trace the locations of patients.
If infections spread in an isolated manner, then the infection rate would rise slowly, he further said.
Dr Nazrul Islam said: “During this three-week period, if people avoid gatherings and wear masks in a proper way, the risk of the next wave will be less.”