Originally posted in pri-bd.org on 29 June 2020

A deadly virus is now raging across the world. In the past six months, this Covid19 virus has infected 9.8 million people worldwide, causing 495.760 deaths (WHO data as of June 28). Since only severe cases of infections are tested it is likely that many more people are infected. The official figures, however, suggest a high case mortality rate of five people in every 100 of confirmed infected persons have died.

Around the world, Government actions have been critical in determining Covid-19 outcomes. Infection and case fatality rates have varied significantly, depending on Government policies, interventions, and their guidance to the population. The case fatality rate has ranged highly from 14 percent in Italy and UK to 8 percent in the case of Sweden. Both the UK and Sweden initially suffered extremely high fatality rates because their Governments initially opted to not go into a shutdown. The UK, however, felt compelled to change its policy and went into a shutdown later. On the other hand, countries such as Republic of Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Vietnam were able to keep infections and mortality extremely low at less than 1 percent. They could do so because of quick action on their part – before the infection became widespread. Countries like Denmark and Germany were able to keep case mortality rates to below 5 percent because of disciplined social distancing, shutdown measures, and high rates of testing.

Bangladesh is now facing a surge in Covid-19 infection. Currently, official data suggests that 133,978 persons have been infected (as of June 28, WHO), a number which is increasing by about 3,500 cases per day. Current data indicate the transmission rate (Rt or how many persons does one person infect over a time) is well above 1 (Imperial College, UK, June), which means infections will exponentially increase. Bangladesh’s Covid-19 cases are now doubling about every 21 days, which is about double the current world average. While this rate will likely slow down, more than 200,000 new infections are likely to happen over the next few months. The pressure on hospitals will increase significantly and is expected to peak in July or August (Imperial College, UK projections), depending on Government intervention. There is, thus, now only a small window to prepare.