Covid-19 infection rate doubles in greater Chattogram

Coronavirus infection rates have suddenly doubled in Chottogram in just one week which is much higher than in other parts of the country.

Experts believe that the increase in rate of infections is largely contributed to rising trends in testing of specimens from suspected corona infected people.

Around one thousand human body specimens are waiting for test confirmation in all three laboratories in Chattogram. Due to this, often it takes time to get the test results of suspected COVID-19 infected persons. Experts have suggested increasing the number of laboratories and manpower in Chattogram for proper management of the corona epidemic.

According to health officials, from March 26 to May 7, 160 corona patients were identified in 41 upazilas, Chattogram City Corporation area and 6 district towns of Chattogram division.

However, from 6 May to 11 May, 225 people were identified as carrying the virus. In all, about 400 people have tested COVID-19 positive in three laboratories in the port city. Although about three hundred samples are tested daily in four PCR machines of three labs, besides this every day more than one hundred samples are preserved for tests in the laboratories.

On Tuesday at the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases BITID, the main laboratory in the region, more than one thousand samples are waiting for the test, said Dr Shakil Ahmed, head of the lab. “We get twice as many samples as we can test. We are working 16 to 18 hours in two shifts everyday.”

“The way the sample is accumulating, there will be no way but to reject the additional samples as required,” He added.
Apart from BITID, corona testing facilities at Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, CIVASU and Chattogram Medical College Hospital were also made available recently. In CIVASU, the sample comes from BITID, where 50-60 samples are being tested every day. Though Chattogram Medical Collage Hospital collects samples, but formal testing has not started functioning in the recently started lab in full swing yet.

To add extra manpower, technicians have been hired from the Department of Genetic Engineering and Microbiology of Chattogram University, CU. As many as 16 students of the department of CU are volunteering in several coronavirus identification labs.

Expressing his thoughts, Raktim Barua, a volunteer from CU who has been working at BITID lab, said, “Considering the pandemic many more testing labs, PCR machines for virus detection and enough manpower with sufficient protective equipment should be provided by the government.”

“At present every one involves to tackle the situation including health workers are working in serious pressure as increasing number of samples and patients are arriving every day. If the pressure does not ease soon the existing manpower will become exhausted,” He added.

Adnan Mannan, Assistant Professor, Department of Genetic Engineering and Microbiology, University of Chittagong, advised collecting samples properly and ensure providing fast results in remote areas to curb the sudden increase in infections in Chattogram.

He also said that the policymakers need to take necessary steps to keep pace with testing and providing results. Otherwise, the crisis may go out of control,” He added.