• Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Covid 19: A year of loss

  • Published at 05:19 pm March 17th, 2021
Doctors in Covid-19 ICU in Dhaka MHO
File photo: Doctors on duty inside a Covid-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a hospital in Dhaka Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Frontline fighters have been pushed to the brink in a tumultuous year for the entire world

In the year since the first death from Covid-19 was confirmed in Bangladesh, over 8,500 lives have been lost to the highly infectious novel coronavirus in the country.

No one has been spared by Covid-19. Victims include teachers, students, judges, lawyers, policemen, businessmen, artists and more.

The virus has been surging once again in recent times and 11 more people succumbed to Covid-19 on Wednesday. The government has ramped up awareness campaigns on the need to wear masks and follow health guidelines, while the number of available hospital beds dwindles.

Furthermore, the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus have made efforts to contain transmission even more important.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths in Bangladesh stood at 8,608 on Wednesday, including mostly the elderly and frontline fighters. However, some experts believe that the actual number of deaths is much higher, as many people died with coronavirus-like symptoms but were not counted in the official death toll.

The first death

The authorities initially did not disclose details of the first person who died from Covid-19 on March 18, 2020. Without naming the person, they said a 70-year-old with diabetes and high blood pressure had died at Kurmitola General Hospital. 

Later, Dhaka Tribune learned that the person had been infected by his son, a migrant worker who returned home from Italy just days before his father’s death. The son survived the illness.

Eminent orthopedic surgeon Dr Mosharraf Hossain, forensic expert Dr Habibur Rahman, former head of the medicine department at Dhaka Medical College Dr NI Khan, former ICU in-charge at Impulse Hospital Dr Jalilur Rahman, former director of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital Dr AKM Mujibur Rahman and former director at the Directorate General of Medical Education (DGME) Dr FBM Abdul Latif are among the medical professionals who have died from Covid-19.

Politicians who have died from Covid 19 include lawmaker Israfil Alam, Mahmud-us-Samad, former minister for Food and Disaster Management Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf, and former MP Mockbul Hossain.  Businessman MA Hashem, chairman of Partex Group, died from Covid-19 last December. 

Trends in the deaths

It has been observed that most of the deceased were aged over 50, and very few were young professionals. 

About 80% of the total deceased were aged over 50, including 24.74% aged 51-60 and 55.82% aged over 60.

Dhaka saw the highest 4,832 (56.13%) deaths followed by Chittagong with 1,586 (18.42%). 

According to data provided by DGHS throughout the year, the number of deaths spiked sharply when testing capacity was increased in mid-April last year.

Data showed that more than half of the deaths (4,531) were recorded from mid-May to mid-September. Subsequently, the number of deaths declined but then again rose from late November to mid-December. 

The number of deaths from Covid-19 once again declined in January and February but has now started climbing again this month.

The country for the first time in two months recorded 26 deaths on two consecutive days on Monday and Tuesday. 

Indecision, mismanagement hurt vaccine containment at the beginning

Several mistakes early in the pandemic hurt Bangladesh’s efforts to contain the novel coronavirus. Health guidelines took a long time to be put in place and enforcing them proved to be extremely difficult. 

The two Eid festivals last year facilitated the spread of the virus as people returned to their home districts, and the initial reopening of garment factories proved to be a severe blunder.

There were also problems in the initial distribution of personal protective equipment to frontline fighters, and the government needed time to address the issue.

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