Infections rising due to delta variant: IEDCR Director

A health worker in a Dhaka hospital sorts test tubes with samples for testing novel coronavirus infectionFile photo

Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR) director professor Tahmina Shirin has said that the cases of Covid-19 have been increasing in Bangladesh because of people’s not following the health guidelines and the Delta variant of novel coronavirus.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Tuesday, she said this when the world is grappling with Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The number of infections, rate of infection and deaths in Covid-19 spiked in the country in the middle of last year. However, the number of infections started to decrease following mass vaccination in August. The rate of infection in Covid-19 was just a little more than 1 per cent in the first few weeks of December last year. But the trend is on the rise in the last few days.

Describing not following the health guidelines as the main reason of recent spike in Covid cases, Tahmina Shirin said, “There is one health guideline for all. Now wedding ceremonies are being organised but no one is wearing masks. Elections are being held. No one is wearing masks even there.”

Bangladesh recorded first cases of Omicron variant in December. The newer variant has become a matter of global concern. The variant has spread in neighbouring India. West Bengal and a few other states of India have already imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

India’s West Bengal closed all types of educational institutions including schools and colleges from Monday. Over 80 per cent cases detected in Delhi, the capital of India, is found to be Omicron cases.

In this context, the IEDCR director thinks the recent spike in Bangladesh is because of Delta variant. She said, “One hundred per cent Covid cases detected (in Bangladesh) in November were infected with the Delta variant. It is not as if that will melt into thin air in just one month. That’s why we can’t say that the cases are increasing because of Omicron variant.”

IEDCR conducts genome sequencing of coronavirus every month. Though the genome sequencing was not done in December, the IEDCR director thinks the likelihood of rise in infections due to Omicron variant is very low.

She said, “Delta variant became the dominant variant over the Alpha and Beta. I can’t talk about December. (Genome) sequencing in December has not been done.”

Earlier, on Monday, the Directorate General of Health Service said the number of cases, rate of infection and death in Covid-19 has increased in the country in the previous 24 hours. During that time (From 8:00pm Sunday to 8:00pm Monday) the number of newly detected case was 674 while four patients died.