7.5 lakh coronavirus cases may be in Dhaka: Economist report
Published : Sunday, 7 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 314
A report in The Economist, a leading UK-based international weekly, claims that the actual number of people infected with the coronavirus is much higher than the official figures in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.
The report titled 'Infections are on the rise in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan' said that low-level testing could mean the actual number could be even worse.
According to the report, John Clemens of icddr,b (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh) estimates that Dhaka may already have as many as 750,000 coronavirus cases."
Regarding the easing of lockdown in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan last week, the report said, "The freeing of 1.7bn people, more than a fifth of humanity, from varied restrictions will bring relief to the region's battered economies."
"In South Asia, they managed only to moderate the disease's acceleration, but not to halt it. The lifting of the lockdowns, in turn, is likely to hasten its spread again," the report warned.
"With some 350,000 confirmed cases and fewer than 9,000 deaths so far, the region's toll looks relatively modest. Yet those numbers disguise both widespread undercounting and a rate of growth that was frightening even before the lifting of restrictions," it said.
In Bangladesh, 35 patients died from Covid-19 in the country over the last 24 hours as of Saturday, taking the death toll to 846. Besides, 2,635 more people tested positive for the virus, which makes 63,026 confirmed cases in total.
Bangladesh government, however, recorded 60,391 cases of coronavirus until Friday, with nearly half of the cases in Dhaka. The death toll in the country hit 811 with 30 deaths recorded in 24 hours until 8:00am Friday.
Pointing out the easing lockdown in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan in the past week, the magazine said it will 'bring relief to the region's battered economies,' but 'promises no relief from the pandemic itself.'
'In luckier countries, stay-at-home rules reduced the number of new infections. In South Asia they managed only to moderate the disease's acceleration, but not to halt it (see chart). The lifting of the lockdowns, in turn, is likely to hasten its spread again,' said the report.
'With some 350,000 confirmed cases and fewer than 9,000 deaths so far, the region's toll looks relatively modest. Yet those numbers disguise both widespread undercounting and a rate of growth that was frightening even before the lifting of restrictions,' it added.
Over the past week, three South Asian nations - Bangladesh, India and Pakistan - have largely lifted nationwide lockdowns intended to curb the spread of Covid-19, The Economist report cited before adding: "The freeing of 1.7 billion people-more than a fifth of humanity-from varied restrictions will bring relief to the region's battered economies."
At the current pace, the numbers are doubling every two weeks, suggesting that by the end of July, when some models predict the outbreak will peak, the official number infected may reach 5 million and the death toll could approach 1,50,000, it estimates.
Finding places in morgues, cemeteries and crematoria is also becoming a challenge in the three nations, according to the report by The Economist.
The municipal graveyard at Narayanganj, an industrial hub in Bangladesh, managed 575 burials in May, against the usual record of fewer than 250 burials in a typical month, it said.
But only 70 of the last month's 575 burials were recorded as victims of Covid-19, says the report.
"There are so many deaths," Economist report quoted Farid Uddin, a gravedigger in Chittagong as saying.
Farid and his team have scarcely slept in four days. "We are overwhelmed. Please pray for us so Allah forgives us and takes back this disease," he told the Economist.