Bangladesh on Friday reported its single-day Covid-19 death toll of 57, the lowest in 25 days, even though the virus surge still remained at the disturbing level.
The new figure that came in the last 24 hours until Friday morning brought the country's total fatalities to 11,450 while health authorities reported 2,177 new cases during the period.
The infection rate rose to 10.34% from Thursday's 9.39% while the death rate remained static at 1.51%, said the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
The country’s infection rate came down below 10% on Thursday after over a month, as it reported a 7.68% infection rate on March 17 and it rose to 10.45% the following day. Since then, the infection rate began an upward march.
The country recorded 52 coronavirus-related deaths on April 5, 78 on April 27, and 77 on April 28, showing a downtrend. It witnessed over 100 deaths during April 16-19 and on April 25.
With the latest figure, 7,59,132 cases have been detected so far in Bangladesh.
The number of recoveries now stands at 681,426, meaning 89.76% of the patients have recovered till now, the DGHS said.
Bangladesh has so far tested 5,469,704 samples, including 21,046 in the past 24 hours. The country reported its first coronavirus cases on March 8 last year and the first death on the 18th of that month.
April, the fatal month
In the last 30 days, 23,889 cases of infections and more than 2,404 deaths were officially registered, making April the most fatal month since the outbreak began last year.
The virus claimed 568 lives in January this year, 281 in February and 638 in March.
Dhaka division remains the worst-hit region, registering most of the deaths – 6,686 or 58.39%.
Twenty-eight of the 57 deaths reported today are from Dhaka division and 13 from Chattogram division.
Lockdown extended till May 5
To break the Covid chain, the government enforced a nationwide lockdown in early April. Having failed to achieve the intended results, it imposed a strict lockdown on April 11 and then extended it up to April 28.
On Wednesday, the government issued a circular extending the lockdown up to May 5, as there is no improvement in the Covid-19 situation.
However, shops and shopping malls will remain open from 10am to 8pm during the period, the announcement said.
Bangladesh launched its vaccination drive on February 7 with Oxford-AstraZeneca doses it purchased from India's Serum Institute.
The country signed an agreement with Serum for 30 million doses. But a record number of cases in India has made the delivery of the doses uncertain. The administering of the first dose remained suspended since Monday.
DGHS DG Prof ABM Khurshid Alam assured that Bangladesh will get 2.1 million doses of vaccine by the first week of May.
Vaccine production in Bangladesh
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday approved in principle a proposal for producing Russian and Chinese Covid-19 vaccines in Bangladesh.
The government on Thursday approved the emergency use of Sinopharm, a Chinese Covid-19 vaccine. It approved the emergency use of the Sputnik V Vaccine of Russia a day earlier.
"We'll get 5 lakh doses of the Chinese vaccine as a gift within 7-10 days. Then we'll start distribution. Then the government will start buying those on a G2G basis," Mahbubur Rahman, Director General of DGDA told reporters on Thursday.
Incepta Pharmaceuticals, Popular Pharma and HealthCare Pharma have the capacity of producing vaccines, and the Chinese vaccine could be produced locally, Mahbubur said.
On Thursday, Dr Shahida Aktar, additional secretary of the Cabinet Division noted that the government will purchase vaccine technology from Russian and China through the direct procurement method (DPM)
India's Covid crisis
The explosion of new Covid-19 cases is overwhelming Bangladesh's largest neighbour India, leaving millions of people infected and putting stress on the country's already overtaxed health care system.
With 386,452 new cases, India confirmed more than 18.7 million on Friday since the pandemic began, the second only to the US.
Its health ministry also reported 3,498 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 208,330. Experts said the actual figures were likely much higher but it is unclear by how much.
Months ago, India had appeared to be winning its battle against the pandemic. After a strict initial lockdown, the country did not see a surge in new cases and deaths compared to other countries.
But when the early restrictions were lifted, many people stopped taking precautions with large gatherings, political rallies and religious festivals being held at many places, drawing millions of people.
Bangladesh-India border sealed
On April 26, Bangladesh closed its border with India for any kind of movement except that of cargoes for the next 14 days as the coronavirus situation in the neighbouring country had gone out of control.