Covid is spreading at a relatively high rate in the districts lying on the Indian border. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) last Wednesday, the rate of new cases in 22 districts was 100 per cent or higher this week than in the previous week, from 17 to 23 May. Of these, 15 districts are border-lying.

The government's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) said last Saturday that some people in the country have been infected with the new strain (Indian variant) without a history of traveling to India. This indicates a community transmission of the new strain. Meanwhile, IEDCR director Tahmina Shirin said yesterday that Indian samples have been identified in 23 patients in Bangladesh so far. She also said 263 samples have been genome sequenced so far in which the Indian variant (B.1.617) was identified. These variants were detected among those who travelled to India recently and those who came in contact with them. In addition, 27 samples were identified with the UK variant, 85 samples were identified with the South African variant and 5 samples were identified the Nigerian variant.

Efforts to increase number of beds, no ICU

In Kushtia, 202 patients were detected with Covid testing 1,359 samples from 18 to 29 May after Eid-ul-Fitr. Among them, three people recently returned from India. They were staying in quarantine upon returning from India. Now as many as 142 Bangladeshi are in quarantine in three government institutions and three hotels.

There were 29 patients in the 34-bed isolation ward in Kushtia General Hospital. Five of them are in critical condition and are on oxygen for 24 hours. The hospital has central oxygen system, but there is no ICU. There are 12 high flow nasal cannulas that supply high levels of oxygen. However, 3 were of them were out of order.

Kushtia Corona Prevention Committee president and deputy commissioner Mohammad Saidul Islam told Prothom Alo that preparations are underway to launch another corona ward to accommodate more patients.

In the last 24 hours in Natore, samples of 83 people have been tested and 23 people have been detected with Covid-19. Natore Sadar Hospital had 26 patients yesterday while it has 32 beds allotted for corona patients. The central oxygen system was installed in the hospital a week ago. Kazi Mizanur Rahman, civil surgeon, Natore, said the first floor of the under-construction building of the new Sadar Hospital with 250 beds has been prepared for use as a corona unit.

There are no ICU beds for corona patients in Naogaon and Chapainawabganj where the number of patients is increasing. Acute corona patients from these districts are being sent to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital. In Jashore district, the number of general beds for corona patients was 40 which has been increased to 80. District civil surgeon Sheikh Abu Shahin said the number of beds would be increased if necessary.

Hospitals full with Covid patients

The hospital authorities are struggling to accommodate the increasing number of corona patients in Rajshahi Medical College. Authorities say there are 232 beds for corona patients. Till Sunday morning, 209 people were admitted with corona and symptoms. Of these, 75 people are undergoing treatment for corona. The remaining 134 are admitted to different wards with corona symptoms. In the 15-bed ICU, 13 people were already admitted.

Twelve people have died at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital in the last 24 hours with corona and corona symptoms. Among them 8 of them were infected with corona while remaining 4 people had corona symptoms. This is the highest number of deaths in a single day in a hospital. The dead included seven from Chapainawabganj, two each from Rajshahi and Naogaon and one from Natore.

The hospital’s deputy director Saiful Ferdous said, there was no room in the ward and they were working on launching a new ward.

Before Eid, the corona detection rate in Satkhira district was 13 per cent that started increasing since 16 May. For a week, the rate has been around 40 per cent. In the last 24 hours, 90 people were examined in the district and 36 of them were detected with coronavirus.

Satkhira Medical College Hospital superintendent, Qudrat-e Khoda said there were 90 beds allotted for the corona patients whereas the hospital already admitted 108 patients.

In Khulna, 97 patients were admitted to the 100-bed hospital for corona patients until Sunday morning. There were 11 people in the ICU. Suhas Ranjan Haldar, focal person of the hospital, told Prothom Alo that the hospital is ready to launch Corona Unit-2 if the patient's pressure increases further. ICU beds have been increased from 10 to 20 yesterday. Besides, 10-bed HDU (High Dependency Unit) has been opened.

Shortage of Oxygen

The number of corona cases is increasing in Chapainawabganj. Many hospitals lack adequate beds and oxygen supplies. Nahid Islam, the physician in charge of the corona unit at Sadar Hospital, said there were 19 beds for corona patients. All beds are now filled with patients. The hospital is unable to admit any more patients.

It has become difficult to provide adequate oxygen to the patients admitted in Chapainawabganj Sadar Hospital. According to hospital authorities, 30 of the 60 oxygen cylinders can be used, while the remaining 30 have to be sent for refilling. But there is shortage of oxygen as oxygen supplier Spectra is not able to supply properly.

Mir Akhtarul, a Spectra employee in charge of oxygen supply in Chapainawabganj, Rajshahi and Natore, told Prothom Alo that the sudden increase in patients had created abnormal pressure.

“Extra oxygen is being supplied but it is taking some time,” he added.

*Prothom Alo local and staff correspondents contributed to this report.