Published:  09:33 AM, 30 May 2021

Community transmission of Indian variant in Bangladesh

Community transmission of Indian variant in Bangladesh

Janomot desk: Bangladesh's health ministry failed to control the community transmission of Indian variants of the coronavirus in the country. The government's Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) has already confirmed community transmission in a border district.

Professor Tahmina Shirin, director of IEDCR, told Prothom Alo on Saturday that several people in Chapainawabganj who have no history of traveling to India have been affected by the new strain (Indian type). This indicates a community transmission of the new strain.

The matter of community transmission in Chapainawabganj came to the fore at a time when the health department was reporting an increase in infections in several districts bordering India. At the same time, the number of patients identified across the country has increased by 22 per cent in the last one week.

Mujaherul Haque, a former consultant for the World Health Organization's Southeast Asia region, told Prothom Alo, "Community transmissions have occurred because the health department has not been able to break the chain of transmission. They have not been able to increase their capacity in contact tracing over a period of about a year and a half. They have  also failed to mobilise public awareness. So there is a risk that the situation will worsen again.”

Community transmission of Indian variant

Last Friday, the German Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), an open global database for coronavirus gene analysis, published information on the detection of Indian strains of corona in Bangladesh.

It was reported that 13 people were detected with the Indian type of coronavirus. Of these 13, 8 are from Chapainawabganj district. The remaining five were identified in Khulna, Pirojpur, Bagerhat, Jhenaidah, Gaibandha and Chuadanga. One person from Khulna and seven from Chapainawabganj have no history of traveling to India. IEDCR has collected and analysed samples of these individuals.

On 8 May, two persons were diagnosed with the Indian strain of the virus (B.1.617.2). They were both men and both returned from India. One of them was from Khulna and the other was from Dhaka.

Four patients infected with Indian variant in Khulna have been deteted so far. Three of them, including a two-year-old child, have a history of traveling to India. The latest person has not travelled to India in recent times.

Pathologists say that if the source is not known, it is considered community transmission. The IEDCR did not know how seven people from Chapainawabganj became infected with the new strain.

The civil surgeon from Chapainawabganj told Prothom Alo, “Five of the seven are from Sadar and two from Shibganj. They are all at home and healthy. We will collect and test their samples again. We have been working on identifying those who came in contact with them.”

However, Khulna civil surgeon Niaz Mohammad told Prothom Alo that he did not have any information that anyone in Khulna district was infected with Indian variant.

Infection situation at the border

On 24 May, the local administration announced a seven-day lockdown in the northwestern district of Chapainawabganj. Corona cases in the district have increased rapidly since Eid. At one stage, the detection rate was 59 per cent compared to the total sample test. In other words, one of every two people being examined will be identified as infected with coronavirus.

The results of last Friday's sample test, however, showed a slight improvement in the situation. Total 39 people were identified with Covid-19 among 113 samples. That means the detection rate was 35 per cent.

The detection rate has also been found to be higher in the surrounding districts of Chapainawabganj. On the same day, the detection rate of Rajshahi, Natore and Naogaon districts was 46, 41 and 50 per cent respectively.

Naogaon civil surgeon ABM Abu Hanif told Prothom Alo that corona infection has increased in Naogaon upazilas adjoining Chapainawabganj. It might spread from Chapainawabganj. They are trying to increase the number of sample tests.

About a month and a half ago, corona cases surged in neighbouring India. People in India are being infected with a new strain of coronavirus. It was also said that the this variant spreads rapidly. India has an extensive border with Bangladesh. People from both the countries travel by land and airport every day. To prevent transmission from India, Bangladesh first closed flights to India and then land ports. Although the land ports were opened later, the movement of people was restricted.

Infections across the country

During Eid-ul-Fitr, thousands of people from big cities travelled to villages across the country. Physical distance was not maintained in the vehicles or ferry crossings. Public health experts expressed concern that the infection could increase after Eid.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) data, the overall transmission in the country has been increasing in the last two weeks. Compared to the 20th week of this year, the detection of patients in the 21st week has increased by 22 per cent. During this time the sample tests increased by 6 per cent. The previous week also saw an increase in detection rates.

In the last 24 hours, 38 people died in the country with 1043 people newly infected. The detection rate is 8 per cent.

Public health expert Muzaherul Haque told Prothom Alo that the treatment of corona patients should be strengthened in all upazila and district hospitals of the border area on an urgent basis.

“There should be no shortage of oxygen, oxygen masks and nasal cannula. Besides, the capacity of contact tracing should also be increased,” he added.

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